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In Camus’ La Peste there is a passage where Tarrou makes an offer to Rieux. Rieux replies:

Bien entendu, vous vous doutez que j’accepte avec joie.

What would be a good literal translation? My attempt:

Of course, you suspect that I will accept with joy

doesn’t seem right. Can se douter have the sense of anticipate? I don't find that sense in the bilingual dictionaries I've consulted.

(I’ve seen the passage translated as:

I need hardly tell you that I accept your suggestion most gladly

but I'm more interested in a literal translation and, in particular, the sense of se douter.)

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Se douter means indeed to suspect , but also, depending on the context, "to infer", "to guess, based on the information one has". This the meaning here.

Vous vous doutez que (and variants) is a common way to express politely what you expect your interlocutor thinks (or should think), something like "as you can guess..."

Ex:

Vous vous doutez que je ne travaille pas le dimanche. (= I guess you understand I don't work on Sundays)

The translation "I need hardly tell you that I accept your suggestion most gladly" conveys that meaning with the same level of language. Maybe a more literal translation would be this: "you will certainly guess I accept your suggestion".

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  • Thank you. I find this answer to be the most helpful, especially the remark that using vous vous doutez is a common way to express politely what you expect your interlocutor thinks. – justerman May 31 '20 at 7:55
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"Se douter" means "to have some slight knowledge (of sth)" ("avoir une idée" in the definition below).

(TLFi) II. Emploi pronom. à valeur subjective. Se douter (de), (que). Avoir (une) idée de quelque chose, croire sur certains indices à une chose qu'on peut redouter. Être loin de se douter, avoir l'air de se douter de/que. (Quasi-) synon. conjecturer, deviner, pressentir, soupçonner.

Therefore "to have an inkling" corresponds well enough (OALD).

a slight knowledge of something that is happening or about to happen

  • It is obvious that you must have an inkling that I accept your suggestion gladly.
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  • Thank you for responding. This answer resolves my difficulty, but I found an alternative answer slightly more enlightening. – justerman May 31 '20 at 8:00

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