The first French and Khmer language book in an expected series on French and Cambodian writers was released last week by Mekong Publishing.
“The Horla”—the story of a man in the process of losing his mind, written by Guy de Maupassant in 1887—was translated into Khmer by Christophe Macquet and his students at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
The series will serve two purposes, Macquet said: It will introduce authors from French-speaking countries to Cambodians, and Khmer-language writers to French-speaking people, he said.
Since the books will be designed so that the French text on every left-side page is the same as the Khmer text on the right, they may be useful to people studying French or Khmer, Macquet said.
“The idea is to produce, for people interested in literature, a series of nice but inexpensive books,” said Pierre Gillette, editor-in-chief of the French-language daily newspaper, Cambodge Soir, which is also published by Mekong Publishing. The books, in pocketbook format, will sell for $3, Gillette said.
“The Horla” was entirely designed and produced in Cambodia, Gillette said. “We felt it was important to show that books of international-quality standards can be done here.”
This is the third time that Macquet and his students have produced a book as part of the two-year translation program in the university’s French Studies Department. This gives them the opportunity to learn translation methods on an actual book project, said Macquet.
The 1999-2001 class produced the first Tintin cartoon album in Khmer, “The Blue Lotus.” Khmer then became the 55th language in which Tintin’s adventures have appeared since the first cartoon album came out in French in 1929. The class of 2000-2002 completed “The Little Prince.” The Khmer version of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s tale has been reprinted twice since it first came out in February 2003, Macquet said.