Il avait un empire absolu sur lui-même et se laissait rarement deviner.

English translation: he had extreme self-control and rarely revealed his thoughts

16:03 Apr 10, 2011
French to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature
French term or phrase: Il avait un empire absolu sur lui-même et se laissait rarement deviner.
"Il avait un empire absolu sur lui-même et se laissait rarement deviner."

This is from a 1859 novel - I'm thinking that it could be translated as "He felt the weight of an absolute empire upon him, but rarely let this be known." - But I wanted to know if anyone else knew of a specific expression, avait un empire sur soi.

Thanks!
lcurtis
Local time: 15:34
English translation:he had extreme self-control and rarely revealed his thoughts
Explanation:
that's the idea
Selected response from:

jmleger
Local time: 14:34
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +6He exercised total self control and was rarely off his guard
Carol Gullidge
4 +4he had extreme self-control and rarely revealed his thoughts
jmleger
3 +1He was a model of self-control who rarely let his feelings show
polyglot45
4He held complete sway over himself and rarely let slip a hint of his thoughts
B D Finch
3He had absolute control of himself, and rarely could he be deciphered
MatthewLaSon


Discussion entries: 9





  

Answers


34 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +4
"Il avait un empire absolu sur lui-même et se laissait rarement deviner."
he had extreme self-control and rarely revealed his thoughts


Explanation:
that's the idea

jmleger
Local time: 14:34
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Carol Gullidge: snap - you beat me to it!
1 min
  -> Well, it's because I have extreme self-control, you see..

agree  Alain Mouchel
2 hrs
  -> Thanks!

agree  Ron Estes: nicely done!
8 hrs
  -> Thx!

agree  Sandra Mouton
21 hrs
  -> Merci. Je ne comprends pas que cette phrase puisse susciter le moindre doute.
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35 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +6
"Il avait un empire absolu sur lui-même et se laissait rarement deviner."
He exercised total self control and was rarely off his guard


Explanation:
...was totally in control of himself and rarely revealed his (inner / private) thoughts

"empire sur soi-m♠me" = self control (Collins Robert)

Carol Gullidge
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:34
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 76

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  jmleger: right back at you
5 mins
  -> many thanks jmleger!

agree  ormiston: what about 'and was hard to fathom' ?
38 mins
  -> many thanks ormiston - 'hard to fathom' is good! Or maybe even 'impenetrable' or 'inscrutable'

agree  Helen Shiner: With ormiston and the first part of your solution.
48 mins
  -> many thanks Helen!

agree  Catherine Gilsenan
17 hrs
  -> many thanks Catherine!

agree  B D Finch: Yes, total for "absolu".
18 hrs
  -> Many thanks Barbara!

agree  Sandra Mouton
21 hrs
  -> many thanks Sandra!
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41 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
"Il avait un empire absolu sur lui-même et se laissait rarement deviner."
He had absolute control of himself, and rarely could he be deciphered


Explanation:
Hello,


avoir un emprise absolu sur soi-même = to be in control of oneself

se laissait rarement deviner = you could rarely figure him out (lets himself rarely be figured out)


I hope this helps.

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Note added at 56 mins (2011-04-10 16:59:40 GMT)
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You would to make it sound literary, matching it sound like poetry, etc from this era. That's why I said "rarely could he be deciphered."

MatthewLaSon
Local time: 15:34
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 20
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15 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
He was a model of self-control who rarely let his feelings show


Explanation:
so many different ways

polyglot45
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 52

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Nikki Scott-Despaigne: or "epitome"
23 hrs
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18 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
He held complete sway over himself and rarely let slip a hint of his thoughts


Explanation:
If you want to keep a reference to the empire, it has to be done in a more indirect way in English. An emperor holds sway over his empire.

You could go for a more literal:
He reigned supreme over his own thoughts and feelings and rarely let slip a hint

B D Finch
France
Local time: 21:34
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 39
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