Book Talk: HEX, Chapter 5

Posted January 5, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Not-A-Review / 0 Comments


Bilingual read-through of HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Welcome back! I’ll keep the intro short and sweet this time. We’re on to chapter 5 out of 33. This post contains spoilers for the story so far (obviously) and comes with a TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL ABUSE.

List of Prominent Characters

So, the NL and EN tags are the ones actually used in the story. If it’s listed for both then it’s a shorthand I’m using to note which of the characters is which. Where no name for ‘both’ is included I haven’t used a name for both. (Expect this list to get updated per chapter!)

  • Beek (NL), Black Spring/Black Rock (EN), Black Beek (both)
  • Stefan (NL), Steve (EN), Ste (both)
  • Katherina (NL), Katherine (EN), Kat (both), aka Wylerheks (NL), Black Rock Witch (EN) Wyler Witch (both)
  • Jolanda (NL), Jocelyn (EN), Jo (both)
  • Timo (NL), Tyler (EN), Tiy (both)
  • Oma (NL), Gramma (EN), Granny (both)
  • Max (NL), Matt (EN), Maxmatt (both)
  • Robert Grim (NL, EN)
  • Claire Hamer (NL), Claire Hammer (EN)
  • Jens van der Heijden (NL), Warren Castillo (EN), Jenren (both)
  • Jasmine Aerendonck (NL), Bammy Delarosa (EN), Jasmy (both)
  • The Aerandoncks/The Delarosas, Aerenrosa (both)
  • Martijn Winkel (NL), Marty Keller (EN),Winler (both)
  • Loes Krijgsman (NL), Lucy Everett (EN), Loucy (both)
  • Pieter van Meerten (NL), Pete VanderMeer (EN), Pete van Meer (both)
  • Marieke (NL), Mary (EN), Marie (both)
  • Laurens (NL), Lawrence (EN), Lau (both)
  • Jelmer Holst (NL), Jaydon Holst (EN), Jaymer (both)
  • Mirna (NL), Sue (EN)
  • Burak Sayers (NL), Burak Şayers (EN)
  • Bert Aerendonck (NL), Burt Delarosa (EN)

Please note: from chapter 6 onwards, I’ll be dropping names that aren’t super-important to the narrative and adding them back in on a chapter-by-chapter basis if necessary.

New Developments/The Story So Far

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past.

In chapter 4: the teenagers have decided to prank the witch to document her coming and goings.

Chapter 5

Okay! So we start this chapter off with a pretty big difference! So big that I need to quote and translate. So!

The first line of this chapter reads, in Dutch (except translated because otherwise it won’t make sense to most of you): “The old tourist information office at the bottom of the Van Randwijckweg had served as tramstation and power generator of the mountain rails between Beek and Berg en Dal until 1955.”

This is the English version: “The former Popolopen Visitor Center at the bottom of Old Miners Road had been the property of the United States Military Academy at West Point since 1802.”

Which also means that the second sentence has been changed. The second sentence describes a plaque that is found on the building, so while the Dutch plaque references the electricity-background, the English version lists the school motto. There are some more changes which all relate to this major change of what the building was used for. It’s really interesting because both these versions keep the visitor’s centre, but I’m at a loss for why you’d turn a military academy into a tourist attraction. Well, I suppose it’s the part where it’s town history museum. Wait. But no one in Black Spring can leave Black Spring and this military academy did see people trained as soldiers (presumably) and they would (presumably) have seen combat outside of the town and we know, because we saw earlier with the trip to Thailand, that people who leave Black Spring get suicidal. And we also know they’re really good at warding off people (and have a deal with some shadowy part of the government), so… Why is there a military academy part of the town when this is, like, the WORST IDEA EVER? I AM CONFUSED.

Agh. Both versions have the “This is like saying Auschwitz was a Boy Scout camp” line. T_T I mean, I get where it’s coming from, but. Opinions?

And now it’s suddenly a military outpost? It was a visitor’s centre just now. I mean, okay, you can convert an outpost into a visitor’s centre, but, like, I don’t recall it being mentioned before now? *checks* No, it wasn’t previously mentioned and the rest of the sentence kindly explains that yes it is a change-of-use, but if you’ve referred to it as a visitor’s centre every single mention up to now and suddenly lead with the description of a military outpost in your main clause, it gets confusing because it’s suddenly using entirely different generic description for something that already had an established description on that level.

The Dutch version, meanwhile, uses the word ‘tram station’ which was already mentioned as one of the old uses of the building in the first sentence of this chapter, so it doesn’t jar nearly as much. I don’t know. I think this whole section works a lot better in Dutch. It’s far tighter in its use and appearance. Every thing that the Dutch version mentions comes back in this passage to have a clear purpose. The English version tries to have the same, but it’s a little more disjointed and it all hinges on that use of ‘military outpost’ that comes out of nowhere.

Um. Okay, before I get distracted, so there are also some small brand changes and, again, food preference changes.

O_O And then we have a change that’s actually really big. The English is missing a HUGE part of a paragraph. In the English version, Claire snaps like a mousetrap and loses any and all mention of Robert’s interpretation of her in this moment. Given that his original interpretation involves sexual assault… So, obviously, this next bit of translation comes with a big TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL ABUSE. So please take care.

For context: the teen protagonist in the book has recently pulled a prank on the scary witch whom Must Be Left Alone At All Times Or Bad Things Happen and recorded it. Robert showed the clip to people in town and has now returned to his HEX-monitoring colleagues and told them that he’s shown the clip to the whole town. This is the reaction his colleagues have from Robert’s pov.

“Jens laughed loudly, but Claire was furious. Usually in cases like these, Grim concluded that she was menstruating, which probably made Claire the first woman in the world to be menstruating non-stop. Robert Grim had had the somewhat disturbing fantasy of sodomising her while her vagina had stretched itself from her belly to her throat and the tampon that was stuck in it was a rolled-up, soggy swamp. This fantasy had been highly unsatisfying.”

And there you go. That’s the paragraph. And combined with the way Robert’s been presented so far I… cannot help but read it as a rape fantasy on his part. And sure, it’s only his fantasy and sure he’s an ass, but wow. I’m actually really curious as to why this particular passage got taken out. I mean, I’m really glad it was, but. Why? What was the choice behind it? Were there female editors who said “Look, this is not okay, we want to take it out?” Was it the translator’s suggestion? Did the author upon reflection think it needed to go himself?
Whatever the reason, I’m seriously glad that it did get cut. (And I’m kind of tempted to get a new Dutch edition with the English cover on it sometime so I can see whether the new edition matches the English one in any way. HEX is actually a pretty fascinating case in SFF fiction relations between different countries.)

More changes and Tielrose becomes Clements.

Mrs. Tielments has a daught in Australia. Now, at first glance, you may respond to that the same way I did initially and went “Wait, but how?” But of course it’s entirely possible that Tielements only moved to the city after having raised her daughter to adulthood, which makes a lot more sense.

And Bert becomes Burt. We’re talking about the Aerenrosas. Now we have a first name for Mr Aerenrosa!

Mrs Imkamp becomes Mrs Soderson. No, I don’t know why.

We learn that Grim is a lapsed Catholic in the Dutch version and a lapsed Methodist in the English one. The English version also does as poor a job at telling us why Robert wants to talk to the Aerenrosas about the fact that they can never leave this place again as the Dutch one does. Normally I actually wouldn’t mind the lack of explanation, but since both versions have, so far, swung in the direction of ‘tell emotions’ rather than ‘imply emotions’ it’s an noticeable lack. I know we get some more implication later on, but it’s usually a lot closer than that.

It’s also interesting that the Dutch version doesn’t make mention of Burt’s religion beyond “Well, he used to be, but not anymore” (How do you know anyway?) and the English version specifically mentions he’s a non-practicing Methodist.

And wow. We suddenly go from a very straightforward comment on how Van Meer and Ste are calm enough to handle the “Talk to the Aerenrosas about the ways their lives are now messed up” talk well to figurative speech. Again, I have to wonder why. This is happening in dialogue, so I assume the change would be to indicate more of Robert’s personality through the way he speaks. It just doesn’t seem really necessary to me.

Lastly, in the Dutch version he calls Claire ‘darling’ or ‘sweetheart’. In the English version it’s changed to ‘angel’.

Next chapter! We finally start to get some answers about what the heck is going on in this town!