Re: a silly question

> Well, it's 2 silly questions actually...
> I haven't been around on the Foucault list for a while so a bit out of touch.
> But something occured to me. Why is the English translation of 'Surveiller et
> Punir,' 'Discipline and Punish'? Currently I have doing some work on the gaze
> and I was looking for the famous part about the panopticon when it struck me
> that this was quite a large discrepancy in the words. Who decides these things ?
> Does anyone know / think they know why it was chosen?
> Rebekah

Hi Rebekah,

An interesting question. The answer can be found in the "Translator's
Note" to _D & P_. The translator is Alan Sheridan:

"Any closer translation of the French title of this book, _Surveiller et
punir_, has proved unsatisfactory on various accounts. To begin with,
Foucault uses the infinitive, which, as here, may have the effect of an
'impersonal imperative'. Such a nuance is denied us in English. More
seriously the verb 'surveiller' has no adequate English equivalent. Our
noun 'surveillance' has an altogether too restricted and technical use.
Jeremy Bentham used the term 'inspect' - which Foucault translates as
'surveiller' - but the range of connotations does not correspond.
'Supervise' is perhaps the closest of all, but again the word has
different associations. 'Observe' is rather too neutral, though Foucault
is aware of the aggression involved in any one-sided observation. In the
end Foucault himself suggested _Discipline and Punish_, which relates
closely to the book's structure."


Blaine Rehkopf
York University

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