Thursday, May 17, 2012

occupational hazard

Speaking of schoolboys:
These people terrify me, but I am one of them. If they stab me in the back, then at least that is the judgment of my peers.

When translating Camus, obsess Freud-like with Meursault's maman

Translating the first line of Camus' "L'Etranger" makes for an interesting article in this week's New Yorker. The various variants run generally close to "Mom died today" and the magazine's focus on the familiarity and untranslatability of the French "maman" distracts from the other, to Me more-important, aspect of the French choice of auxiliary verbs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Disarming the perfect detonator

There is a character in Joseph Conrad's "Secret Agent", that of anarchist-arsonist Karl Yundt who, in addition to giving out, by his own account, as much explosive as anyone wants to anyone who wants it (so long as he has just a bit for himself), goes around with a flask of explosive in a coat pocket, connected with a tube winding through shirtsleeves to a small rubber ball in his fist. Describing the arrangement to an associate in a seedy London pub, Yundt complains of the 20-second delay between closing his fist on the ball and triggering the explosive. He boasts about a work-in-progress perfect detonator that would reduce that lag to zero.
"... a detonator that would adjust itself to all conditions of actions, and even to unexpected changes of conditions. A variable and yet perfectly precise mechanism. A really intelligent detonator."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Year of the Dragon

"The year returns. History repeats itself. Ye crags and peaks I'm with you once again. Life, love voyage round your own little world. And now? Sad about her lame of course but must be on your guard to not feel too much pity. They take advantage."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

sans contexte

- 李白

«Lorsque l'ardeur de ma parole persuasive
Retira de l'âbime obscur de l'erreur
Ton âme profondément déchue,
Et que, pleine d'une atroce douleur,
Tu me racontas tout ce
Qui s'était passé avant moi,
Et cachant ton visages dans tes mains,
Pleine d'horreur et de honte,
Soudain tu pleuras...»
 - N.A. Nekrasov
"So halt'ch's endlich denn in meinen Händen
"Und nenn' es in gewissem Sinne mein."
 - J.W. v. Goethe