richness of complexion

slavipet

Senior Member
Bulgaria
Hi everybody,

I am trying hard to translate ( in my native language) an excerpt from the Scarlet Letter. I cannot find in google the following collocation: richness of complexion. Does is it mean that she is coloured (dark-complexioned) or doest it mean that she has a rich suntan?
'She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam, and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion...'
Thanks in advance for your help!
 
  • dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Literary language is a tough not to crack :D

    The third meaning of "richness" is "fullness, vividness" - it can be used for describing colors, for instance.

    Complexion is, let me quote Oxford English Dictionary:

    the natural colour and condition of the skin on a person's face

    It would mean the the color of this woman's face was very intense. You should look up what's Bulgarian for "complexion" and I think you'll manage to translate it :)
     

    ewhite

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    I don't think "richness of complexion" implies dark or tanned skin in this context. I suspect what Hawthorne is describing is what we might call these days a healthy glow.
     

    slavipet

    Senior Member
    Bulgaria
    It is, indeed...
    Still looking for the best adjective to replace "richness"..there are not many collocations that come to my mind..."intense" does go well with colours...still I don't get if her face is smooth and pale or suntanned...
    Thanks for your help:)
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Would you care to elaborate, ewhite? What is "a healthy glow"? Is it some expression used to say that a skin of some person looks healthy?
     

    slavipet

    Senior Member
    Bulgaria
    Thanks a lot!

    I am trying to be "faithful" to the original, however, I find it difficult translating description for fear of misunderstanding.
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Faithful translation is a good thing, as long as it does not become "slavish translation" which might be the case here. Try to think of some alternatives, convey the idea with different words in your language. :) Sometimes, when translating (I'd very much like to become a translator one day) all you can do is to give people a general idea of something.
     

    slavipet

    Senior Member
    Bulgaria
    I am an English teacher...not keen on translating at all, esp. literary translation which is the lowest-paid but the toughest...it In order to be an adequate translator you have to read a lot of literature both in the target and in the source language to have a rich vocabulary. Good luck with translation practice ! :)))
     

    brampton

    Member
    English - English RP
    I think one needs to see the sentence in context:-- Hester Prynne is emerging from prison and shocking the censorious with her unrepentant display of beauty.

    The young woman was tall, with a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale. She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam; and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes. She was ladylike, too, after the manner of the feminine gentility of those days; characterised by a certain state and dignity, rather than by the delicate, evanescent, and indescribable grace which is now recognised as its indication. And never had Hester Prynne appeared more ladylike, in the antique interpretation of the term, than as she issued from the prison.
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I'd say richness is being used to mean a flawless complexion, the kind that wealthy or well-taken care of women can afford to attain and keep.
     
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