I have been reading "The Plague" by Camus. In here, there is a sentence

"When they forgot the lives which until now it had been given them to lead. "

I think "given to them" should come as it makes more sense or I am wrong and the translator of the book is right. Need help

  • 1
    That sentence is not a good translation from the French. In fact, it's terrible. In French, there is an idiom that means that but it is improperly translated. It should be plural: When they forgot the lives which, until now. they had been given to lead. – Lambie Feb 17 '19 at 16:56
  • I don't get the difference, meaning-wise. – Lorel C. Feb 17 '19 at 18:00

The translation is correct English. "Them" in this case is an indirect object. You don't use "to" with indirect objects. E.g. "Please give him the money." "Money" is the direct object, and "him" is the indirect object. Of course you could also phrase it, "Please give the money to him," and then "him" would be the object of the preposition "to". Either way, with or without the "to", it means the same thing.

So the phrasing you suggest for Camus, "... had been given to them to lead," would be just fine also. Maybe the translator didn't like the sound of the 2 "to"s so close together? Whatever his reason, his way works too.

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