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Introductory Notes. Words usually associaated with Isaac Babel(1894-1940) re, first and foremost, those of "humour"

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Words usually associaated with Isaac Babel(1894-1940) re, first and foremost, those of "humour", "laughter", "irony," nd the like of them. At the first Writer's Congress (1934) he said We are deprived of only one right, the right to write badly." His peech would have sounded serious and straightforward but in act it exposed the very essence of Babel's ironical manner of lutting things into words: "Comrades, let us not fool ourselves: his is a very important right, and to take it away from us is no mall thing..." Considered Morison, the English translator of Ba->el's works: "There must have been many among the audience vho understood how serious and how terrible Babel's joke was. Vnd there must have been some who had felt a chill at their hearts it another joke that Babel had made earlier in his address, when le spoke of himself as practising a new literary genre. This was he genre of silence."

Such were Babel's reckless jokes, fraught with danger in hose times when a joke on serious matters was considered a guilt, md the joker himself "an enemy of the people."

Babel's literary and communicative jokes were renowned, >ut they were not made for the sake of showing his wit. He used о say about himself that he "learned from old French writers" md that his target was to express his thoughts "clearly, and not at ^reat length," and sought the extreme laconicism of expressive neans. Resultant, "ironic elegance" lay beneath the elemental sim-)licity of his narrative manner.

Isaac Babel was born in Odessa, in 1894. To many people,

he years of his childhood and youth are associated with the dark-—


est pages in the history of the Russian Empire, those of the Jewish pale of settlement, the Beilis trial in Kiev, the Black Hundreds, and the planned pogroms. However, in Odessa, the great port on the Black Sea, with its transient, mixed population, the Jewish com­munity felt different, marked by singular robustness and vitality, for good and for bad. The lower classes, their communal residence in the suburb of Moldavanka, lived the life of their own, had their own jargon, their own humour, their own myths and heroes, their own outcasts. Babel depicted that unique world, its tongue, its rites and myths, its coarse, elaborate nicknames, with such brilliant and vivid elegance that it sometimes seems that they speak for them­selves. Those draymen, dairy-fanners, traders and gangsters, they may "say little but what they say is tasty."

The language of Babel's stories of Odessa is so particular that it may seem an impossible task to translate them at all. Indeed, many brilliant sayings and jokes, many symbolic names and picturesque details are inevitably lost due to the ineffability of their local and national colouring incarnated in the very form of words and grammar, which made the unique whole that may be called the "Odessa Jargon." Those words, names, phrases, and jokes, the very clumsiness of their grammar, and the "tastiness" of their salty contents, for decades became favourites in the myth lore of Russian intellectuals, or, in a way, a symbol of the immortal humour of a sentenced man who is capable to laugh through tears at people and at himself.

The translator faces several challenges in Babel's prose. The first one is the choice of names for things and people. In Russian, Babel's personages have names like Фроим, Баська, Венчик, охДвойра. These are Odessa names, colourful and clumsy at once, Southern folk derivations from original Jewish forms of Эфраим ох Дебора, which adds special flavour to the whole at­mosphere of Babel's literary world. In translation, Babel's per­sonages have changed their names to become somebody else, just ordinary Jews with ordinary Jewish names: Фроим Грач turns into Ephraim Rook, which sounds like any other name and not

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Практикум по художественному переводу

anything special. The giantess Баська becomes Little Basya («крошка Бася»), and the humour loses its salt, becomes too straightforward and superfluous.

Another problem, and more serious one, is the grammar of his stories. In some cases Ihc translator finds a way out in seeking English solution to Babel's play on the grammar of a word or a sentence. More often than not, it is a slight phonetic instead: 'osses instead of horses, ain't, momma (for Mama), etc. These substitutions add some colouring to the speech of the heroes, but this colouring lacks individuality, whereas in the original text, such irregular forms are both expressive and indi­vidual. But in most cases, such a play is lost. When, in Russian, Bas'ka says «У вас невыносимый ГРЯЗЬ, папаша, но я выведу этОТ ГРЯЗЬ!» she sounds Odessa and Babel due to the very deviation from the rules of grammatical gender agreement. In English, Little Basya speaks accurate grammar and sounds a diligent schoolgirl, "Your dirt is simply unbearable, dad, but ГII get rid of all this filth:"



Another obstacle to overcome is the phraseology of his heroes of Moldavanka, the phrases, epithets and similes, many of which have long become popular, originally coined by Ba­bel. Such units as «держать фигу в кармане», «что вы сидите, как старый пень», «пусть вас не волнует этих глупостей» and many other spicy expressions are widely used as popular phrases, but they usually disappear in translation. Anyhow, some of such Babel's constructions have been substi­tuted in English, even if transformed. «Слушайте меня ушами» has got the form of "listen to me with all your ears," which sounds as funny in English. Some of the expressions based on allusion seem quite translatable, yet require a sort of comments, i. e., «папаша Крик, старый биндюжник, слывущий между биндюжниками хулиганом» is translated by Morison as "Papa Krik, famed among his fellow draymen as a bully." But the word "drayman" is quite neutral in English to only name the profes­sion, while the Russian dialectal word «биндюжник» (for

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Imagery in Translation

«ломовик, ломовой извозчик») implies the connotations of "rude, bully, foul-mouth" and thus, even phonetically {bindyuzh-nik), stands next to "bandit." Using this joke, Babel actually says, "Papa Krik was notorious as a superbully among all bully draymen."

Task for comparison: Отец

ОТЕЦ

... В среду, пятого числа, Фроим Грач возил в порт на пароход «Каледония» пшеницу из складов общества Дрей­фус. К вечеру он кончил работу и поехал домой. На повороте с Прохоровской улицы ему встретился кузнец Иван Пятиру-бель.

Загрузка...

—■ Почтение, Грач, — сказал Иван Пятирубель, — ка­кая-то женщина колотится до твоего помещения...

Грач поехал дальше и увидел на своем дворе женщину исполинского роста. У нее были громадные бока и щеки кир­пичного цвета.

— Папаша, — сказала женщина оглушительным басом,
— меня уже черти хватают со скуки. Я жду вас целый день...
Знайте, что бабушка умерла в Тульчине.

Грач стоял на биндюге и смотрел на дочь во все глаза.

— Не крутись перед конями, — закричал он в отчая­
нии, — бери уздечку у коренника, ты мне коней побить хо­
чешь...

Грач стоял на возу и размахивал кнутом. Баська взяла коренника за уздечку и подвела лошадей к конюшне. Она распрягла их и пошла хлопотать на кухню. Девушка повеси­ла на веревку отцовские портянки, она вытерла песком за­копченный чайник и стала разогревать зразу в чугунном ко­телке.

— У вас невыносимый грязь, папаша, — сказала она и

___ —


Практикум по художественному переводу

выбросила за окно прокисшие овчины, валявшиеся на полу, — но я выведу этот грязь! — прокричала Баська и подала отцу ужинать.

... Сияющий глаз заката падал в море за Пересыпью, и небо было красно, как красное число в календаре. Вся тор­говля прикрылась уже на Дальницкой, и налетчики поехали на глухую улицу к публичному дому Иоськи Самуэльсона. Они ехали в лаковых экипажах, разодетые, как птицы колиб­ри, в цветных пиджаках. Глаза их были выпучены, одна нога отставлена к подножке, и в стальной протянутой руке они держали букеты, завороченные в папиросную бумагу. Отла­кированные их пролетки двигались шагом, в каждом экипа­же сидел один человек с букетом, и кучера, торчавшие на высоких сиденьях, были украшены бантами, как шафера на свадьбах. Старые еврейки в наколках лениво следили тече­ние привычной этой процессии — они были ко всему равно­душны, старые еврейки, и только сыновья лавочников и ко­рабельных мастеров завидовали королям Молдаванки.

Translated by В. G. Guerney:

THE FATHER

... Ephraim Rook spent Wednesday the fifth carting wheat from the warehouses of Dreyfus and Co. to the S. S. Caledonia down in the harbour. Toward evening he finished his work and drove home. Rounding the corner from Prokhorovskaya Street he encountered Ivan Pyatirubel the blacksmith.

"My respects, Rook," said Ivan Pyatirubel. "A woman of sorts is banging on the door of your place."

Rook drove on, and saw in his courtyard a woman of gigan­tic height. She had enormous hips, and cheeks of a brick-red hue.

"Dad," said the woman in a deafening bass, "I'm so bored all the devils in Hell are nipping me. I've been waiting for you the whole day. Grandma, you see, has died in Tulchin."

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Imagery in Translation

Rook stood there on his cart goggling at his daughter.

"Don't wriggle about in front of the 'osses," he cried in despair. "Take a-hold on the wheeler by the bridle; you want to ruin my 'Sosses?"

Rook stood on his cart and waved his whip. Little Basya took the wheeler by the bridle and led the horses off to the stable. She unharnessed them, and then went off to fuss in the kitchen. The girl hung her dad's foot-wrappings on a line, scoured the sooty teapol with sand, and started wanning hash in a cast-iron pot.

"Your dirt is unbeatable, dad," she said, and tossed through the window the sweat-soaked sheepskins that lay about on the floor. "But I'll get rid of this filth," cried Little Basya, and served her dad his supper.

... The gleaming eye of the sunset was falling into the sea beyond Peresyp, and the sky was red like a red-letter day. All the shops of Dalnytskaya had now shut, and the gangsters were driving past to Glukhaya Street, where Joe Samuelson kept his whorehouse. In lacquered carriages they drove, dressed up like birds of paradise, their jackets all colours of the rainbow. Their eyes were agoggle, each had a leg jutting out on the footboard, and each held in an outstretched arm of steel a bouquet wrapped in tissue-paper. Their lacquered jaunting ears moved at a walk­ing-pace. In each carriage sat one gangster with a bouquet, and the drivers, protuberant on their high seats, were decked with bows like best men at weddings. Old Jewish women in bonnets lazily watched the accustomed procession flow past. They were indifferent to everything, those old Jewish women, and only the sons of the shopkeepers and shipwrights envied the kings of the Moldavanka.

EXERCISES FOR COMPARISON

• Compare the forms of names in both texts and the seman­tic and emotive difference between them. Comment on such trans-

_


Практикум по художественному переводу

formations as Rook for Грач, Little Basya for Баська, and Pyat-irubel for Пятирубель.

' Compare the translator's choice of words and their sty­listic colouration with the source text. Comment on the reason for transformations. Does cart equal биндюга!

• Translating from Russian into English comment upon
morphological problems of translation and their solution. Point
down such forms as колотится до твоего помещения or '0.9.9-
es.

• Comment upon syntactic transformations in the Russian
translation.

• Compare the amount and quality of emotive information
lost or added in translation.

• Read the two texts aloud and compare the difference in
their rhythmic patterns and their role in perception.

• Think of your own amendments to the translation.

Task for translation:Король

КОРОЛЬ

... Друзья Короля показали, что стоит голубая кровь и неугасшее еще молдаванское рыцарство. Небрежным движе­нием руки кидали они на серебряные подносы золотые мо­неты, перстни,коралловые нити.

Аристократы Молдаванки, они были затянуты в мали­новые жилеты, их плечи охватывали рыжие пиджаки, а на мясистых ногах лопалась кожа цвета небесной лазури. Вып­рямившись во весь рост и выпячивая животы, бандиты хло­пали в такт музыке, кричали «горько» и бросали невесте цве­ты, а она, сорокалетняя Двойра, сестра Бени Крика, изуродо­ванная базедовой болезнью, с разросшимся зобом и вылеза­ющими из орбит глазами, сидела на горе подушек рядом со щуплым мальчиком, купленным па деньги Эйхбаума и оне­мевшим от тоски. Обряд дарения подходил к концу, шамесы 204


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