The translation of Notes d’un musicien en voyage involves the solution or semi-solution of several problems. Offenbach’s style was swift and colloquial—the least “literary” style imaginable. Written as they were from notes, the paragraphs are short, sometimes only one sentence. As a means of enhancing the liveliness of the narration, he used the historical present almost to excess. It has been necessary to combine many sentences, to double-barrel paragraphs, and in many cases to change the historical present into the past. One characteristic piece of literary coquetry proved impossible of a proper solution. Offenbach very frequently larded his French with English words—English was tres a la mode in France in 1876. How can one deal with this in a translation? Perhaps one solution would be to translate the English words into French equivalents, but this would give quite another effect from the one Offenbach wanted. For the most part we were forced to ignore this affectation, and the prose loses something of its piquancy.
Also, which of the frequent and often amusing misspellings in the French edition are Offenbach’s and which merely typographical errors? The name of his manager Maurice Grau appears as “Gran”; New York Times editor Ford becomes “Foord” and that paper’s critic Schwabe “Schwab”; George Pullman’s name is spelled “Pulmann” and “Pullmann”; The Mighty Dollar is set down as “The Mighty Dollard,” but in French becomes “le Puissant Dollar”; Odd Fellows becomes “old fellows,” the French reading “les vieux garçons,” indicating that the mistake was Jacques’ own. Some of the names in the section on American art have been so distorted that it is impossible to unscramble them. Many common nouns are treated in the same way, and may have been due either to ignorance or carelessness in transcribing from notes taken during Offenbach’s visit.