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French to English translations [Non-PRO] Art/Literary - Linguistics / Translation
French term or phrase:a bien
"Ce traducteur a bien retraduit Plutarque."
This is from an essay by Berman on retranslation. He is explaining how a retranslation is not solely any translation of a text already translated, and he gives the example of Amyot's translations of Plutarch.
Thanks everyone for your valuable comments. Thus discussion was very helpful to me. All the points made about the context, the syntax, or the subsequent "mais..." add up with what Berman is actually implying. Berman is argueing that all "great" translations are retranslations and then, in trying to validate his arguement, he posits the counter arguement that there are great translations that are not retranslations. Then he dismisses this counter argument by widening the meaning of retranslation to include even those works that has never been translated into the same language before. His argument is that a retranslation is not solely any new translation of a work already translated. Amyot's Plutarch is one such example where it had not actually been translated before (arguably not a retranslation then, yet a great translation) yet Berman considers a retranslation, according to his widened definition of retranslation.
I agree with you and Tony that if the author had meant to say that he did it well it would probably have been expressed differently, though "bien" in that position can mean well, for example in "il a bien travaillé".
In answer to your comment "...there is nothing in the text provided to indicate it could be "indeed"..." — but of course there is! The very syntax '[subject] a bien [past participle] is a pretty clear indicator — and cf. "Il a beau... [+ inf.] If it really meant literally 'well', as W/A rightly points out, there are other much more likely constructions the writer might have used instead that would generally be more idiomatic in FR — though cf. expressions like 'il a bien fait de venir'
Charles has gone the extra mile, as usual : thanks! That widened meaning of "retranslate" indeed seems not only pointless but likely to cause confusion. While I don't agree with W/A that the syntax as given precludes it meaning "well", Charles's explanations seem to me to leave no doubt as to the meaning intended.
As Victoria and W/A have already said, it's impossible to know for sure without more of your surrounding context. From the syntax used, I'd say Victoria's suggestion of "did indeed re-translate" or even something along the lines "may (well) have re-translated..." — in which case, we would reasonably expect it to be followed by a "mais..." (explicit or implied) I think if the writer had wanted to say that he had produced a good translation, there are better / more idiomatic ways they might have expressed this in FR.
I looked up the source. "Bien" clearly does mean "indeed", not "well", in context. The author is not talking about how well Amyot "retranslated" Plutarch. (He did it very well indeed, by common consent; so Montaigne thought, certainly.) It's here if anyone wants to look: https://journals.openedition.org/palimpsestes/596
I looked it up mainly because I couldn't understand why the author says that Amyot retranslated Plutarch. He worked directly from the Greek, not from a Latin version. So why does he say that Amyot "a retraduit" Plutarch? The answer turns out to be that for this author "retranslation" includes translation of an original text that has already been translated before, albeit independently, and apparently into any language, since before Amyot, as far as I know, Plutarch had only been translated into Latin. I can't see the point of widening the meaning of "retranslate" like this.