September 16, 2014
- Languagehat has been reading more Vel’tman and found a forgotten bit of nineteenth-century realia: the four thieves.
- Ian Probstein discusses his own and other translations of Mandel’shtam’s Stalin epigram. I completely agree with him on why (rasp)berries in English aren’t an adequate equivalent of малина (‘raspberry,’ but with additional idiomatic meanings) and why “highlander” is better than “mountaineer.” (In a class I once tried “mountain man” in that spot, and I like Scott Horton’s daring “hillbilly.”) I also agree with LH’s caveats and defense of David McDuff. I find quite a bit to like in Horton’s translation, though his last two lines end up cryptic and I have reservations about “pursues the enslavement of half-men” for играет услугами полулюдей. Also, I seem to be in the minority in taking пудовые гири ‘pood [16.38 kg] weights’ as suggesting пудовые вериги ‘pood weights worn by Christians as a form of mortification of the flesh’ — apart from Dimitri Smirnov and possibly Horton, the translators take the metaphor as meaning precision (exactly a pood — and of course верны does suggest this meaning should be primary), rather than a burden (so much weight to carry). And why “pound weights” rather than something heavier (three-stone weights?), if English units are introduced?
- Listen to an interview with Willard Sunderland about his new book on Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg (only $3.99 as an e-book).
- Tom has been reading Gertsen (“His stories were so good that I wished they were even better, by which I mean that I wish Charles Dickens had known these people and written a novel about London’s revolutionary Germans, Russians and Poles”) and Pushkin. I like “distant, unfussy, and exact” as a description of Pushkin’s style, and I’m still puzzling about exactly what kind of “vigorous” that adds up to. Not that Pushkin is un-vigorous, but it’s not the axis on which I’m most inclined to place him. More Russian short fiction is promised in upcoming posts on Wuthering Expectations.
- A potpourri of Ukraine links from the last month: Alexander Anichkin on Western Europeans fighting on the side of the Donetsk separatists, possibly from the French far right and the Spanish far left; Alexei K. on the history of the term Novorossiya ‘New Russia,’ Russian journalistic practice, and (less directly about Ukraine) Krylov’s geese, Boris and Gleb, and modern-day dubious interpretations of Russian culture and Eastern Christianity.