se dépouiller

Carcassonnaise

Senior Member
British English
I have seen the general meaning in the dictionary of "to strip/shed" and also "to cast off" (morgue) (though I'm not sure what that means) but I'm after a closer translation in the context.
This is a novel about the death of the protagonist's son, but written as though from the perspective of the dead man. The father takes his son's stinking, unwashed duvet to the dry cleaners, breathing in the last odour, unwilling to hand it over.
"Papa se dépouille, il perd, il perd."
Any ideas?
 
  • mannenhitsu

    Senior Member
    français [France]
    So he is talking to himself about tearing down items one by one that were his son's possessions, the attachement fading away until nothing is left to hang on to.
     

    Carcassonnaise

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, thank you mannenhitsu :) I'm just after how to render this... I didn't explain clearly enough. The novel is written as though from the perspective of a dead son watching his father grieve. So "Papa se dépouille" is not self-pitying. Is the idea that the father is losing everything, he is being stripped?
     

    Michelvar

    Quasimodo
    French / France
    IS it specifically dignity then?
    No, the problem is that "il se dépouille" is specific for nothing, and the sentence is difficult to understand, we can also guess from the context. I agree with vsop44, my first thaught was that the old man is losing his moral / psychological strength, he is too sad because of his loss, therefore he loses his restraint.
     

    Carcassonnaise

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hmmm.... So having all that information from francophones, I would actually be tempted to render this in English as simply "Pa is being stripped of everything". But I'll have to sleep on it to see if inspiration strikes; :) Thank you all for your help.
     

    mannenhitsu

    Senior Member
    français [France]
    Yes, thank you mannenhitsu :) I'm just after how to render this... I didn't explain clearly enough. The novel is written as though from the perspective of a dead son watching his father grieve. So "Papa se dépouille" is not self-pitying. Is the idea that the father is losing everything, he is being stripped?
    Ooops, I understood exactly the opposite, the father mourning his dead son.

    “Dad is going down the drain” sounds cruel, what about Father is crumbling (down).
     

    archijacq

    Senior Member
    french France
    nothing to do with dignity or crumbling
    he is gradually relinquishing and losing (his last physical possessions of his son - smelly duvet, etc)
     

    Carcassonnaise

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, I get that archijacq. So is this best rendered by "Pa is being stripped of everything" or "Pa is giving up everything"? Is there any sense of volition in the French, or is it something that is being done to him?
     

    OLN

    Senior Member
    French - France, ♀
    se dépouiller sous-entend forcément soi-même.
    Les phrases précédentes (voir ici ; la scène se passe au 11e jour après le décès du fils) font penser qu'il se défait des affaires de son fils, mais le fait à contrecœur. Il aurait aimé retenir ces affaires comme il aurait aimé retenir son fils mais se résigne vraisemblablement à ne plus lutter.
    se défaire de qch donnerait give up something

    Le choix de dépouiller par l'auteur n'est sans doute pas anodin, une dépouille étant un cadavre (mortal remains).
     

    Carcassonnaise

    Senior Member
    British English
    The relationship was "normal", they had a loving relationship, the father is in grief just after the death, as you say OLN.
    How about "Pa was having to relinquish everything"? I cannot see how to get the allusion of death, the dépouille, into the English.
     

    mannenhitsu

    Senior Member
    français [France]
    Don't you say "falling down to pieces" when experiencing some grief (sorrow)? Thus "crumbling".
     

    Carcassonnaise

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, you could say crumbling to mean that - but here I think the meaning must be that of loss, of things being stripped away, rather than the father's emotional or psychological state. I wish I could get the play on words of dépouille in the English, but inspiration for that not striking at the moment :)
     
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