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se chercher sous

English translation: from where he was under his horse he tried to figure out his position

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03:41 Aug 11, 2006
French to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature
French term or phrase: se chercher sous
I am a little confused about what's going on here, and perhaps if I understand this last "se cherche sous" in the last part, I can understand the sentence:

from Alfred Jarry's La Dragonne, describing a military commander who is mounted on horseback, in the middle of a rain of bullets:
La chute du cheval rappela a Saqueville qu'il etait inoui, depuis l'invention des batailles, qu'un Alexandre vainquit, a pied, quoique les temps soient venus ou le cheval disparaitra de la guerre, et il se chercha sous le dernier Bucephale.

*Bucephale was the name of Alexander's steed.

Does this mean that the horse falls on him?
Tegan Raleigh
United States
Local time: 08:36
English translation:from where he was under his horse he tried to figure out his position
Explanation:
the next sentence makes it perfectly clear. The sky was dark - there were obviously no stars to help him locate his position...

you need to think in terms of "se chercher" = try to figure out where you are, and "sous", his actual physical position at that moment i.e. under the horse

QED
Selected response from:

xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 17:36
Grading comment
the phrasing here can also suggest more "metaphysical" connotations that others have suggested...
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4from where he was under his horse he tried to figure out his positionxxxCMJ_Trans
4Not for grading
peekay
4he asked himself
Antonio Barros
4to feel one's way
Fiorsam
3 +1he finally found himselfMarion Sadoux
2 +2tried to find himself under...
Ben Gaia MA
3he became self-enlightenedMatthewLaSon
3to find himself underJudy Gregg


Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


49 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
he asked himself


Explanation:
I think the reference to the horse's "chute" clinches the fact that Saqueville was indeed thrown off the last Bucephalus. Here, I think "il se chercha" refers more to Saqueville's asking himself, as in the English phrase "to ask searching questions of himself," so he is sort of in a reverie asking/probing himself. It also could refer to his seeking to get his footing. But I think the point you ask about, whether the horse fell on Saqueville, is clearly yes.

Antonio Barros
Brazil
Local time: 12:36
Native speaker of: Portuguese
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5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5 peer agreement (net): +2
tried to find himself under...


Explanation:
I think the text has a double meaning of "trying to pull himself together" ie physically, as well as the more spiritual "tried to find his identity" ie as a new "Alexander"-type general.

Ben Gaia MA
New Zealand
Local time: 03:36
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Fiorsam
3 hrs
  -> grazie

agree  JH Trads
6 hrs
  -> obrigado
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
he finally found himself


Explanation:
I agree that it seems to make rather little sense. My guess is that the use of "se chercha sous" is metaphorical: he is under the horse, quite astounded about what has happened and "chercher" is used here instead of "trouver" to refer to the thought process taking place. I am not sure how one can translate that into English.

Marion Sadoux
China
Local time: 23:36
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Ingeborg Gowans: yes, and "feux" bezieht sich wohl hier auf firing of the guns
3 hrs
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
to feel one's way


Explanation:
This is the literal meaning of "se chercher". I don't offer it as a possible translation (although it could work) but as a way to get close to the meaning of the expression. One could say: "he groped his way out from under..."

Fiorsam
United States
Local time: 11:36
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Italian
PRO pts in category: 24
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
from where he was under his horse he tried to figure out his position


Explanation:
the next sentence makes it perfectly clear. The sky was dark - there were obviously no stars to help him locate his position...

you need to think in terms of "se chercher" = try to figure out where you are, and "sous", his actual physical position at that moment i.e. under the horse

QED

xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 17:36
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 94
Grading comment
the phrasing here can also suggest more "metaphysical" connotations that others have suggested...
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10 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Not for grading


Explanation:
Folks, I have the sneaky suspicion that the actual phrase is more metaphorical than we might think. Yes, he was trying to reemerge underneath his horse after falling off, but the phrases in between, the allusion to Buchephalus and the contemplation of the disappearance of horses in general from the battlefield indicate to me that he looked not only to re-emerge fomr under his horse but he may also have realized how time (and evolution, although this seems like an odd term to use in this setting) was passing him by, and specifically, leaving him stranded underneath a horse.

Just my take on this.

peekay
Canada
Local time: 11:36
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench
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12 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
to find himself under


Explanation:
This is metaphorical. Saqueville is trapped uner his horse which makes reminds him that his time has come and gone. He find himself under the last Bucéphale.I think he is making an illusion to Alexander the large and his Bucéphale.

Judy Gregg
Local time: 10:36
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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3 days23 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
he became self-enlightened


Explanation:
Hello,

Something happens under that horse (steed) which brings Alexander to "find himself", or became "self-enlightened." He comes to a sudden realization about himself. Whatever that is, I can't tell you.

I would argue that this has nothing to do with "se trouver sous" in a literal sense.

I hope this helps.

MatthewLaSon
Local time: 11:36
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 20
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