NABOKV-L post 0018994, Wed, 23 Dec 2009 01:44:05 -0200

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VNBibliography: Correction
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D.B.Johnson: Translation: theory and practice : a historical reader By Daniel Weissbort, Ástráður Eysteinsson-Oxford University Press | 2006 This volume is a compendium that contains a good bit of material by and about translation. In the chapter "From Pound to Nabokov', the authors gather together both VN's numerous discussions and samples of his own translations and his comentaries on translations...There is also discussion about VN's translations.

Walter Miale: I can't read Russian.I'm not sure how to apply your method of assessing translations, which has its limitations, as you note. Some translations read like translations, if not ponies for students. Others take liberties with literal meaning but provide distinguished prose and spine tingling literary experience...Ten years ago (Fri, 4 Jun 1999) I tried to make a case on this forum that the ideal translation should provide the original language (with a transliteration if necessary), a sublinear word-for-word translation, and on facing pages a literary translation.
JM: In some cases bilingual editions, as published in non-anglophone countries, spontaneously present the answer to Walter Miale's plea, but only in a certain sense. For example, most foreign poems I recently read were brought out in their original English, French,German, Russian verses, with a translation into Portuguese by their side. Quite often our familiarity with the foreign language is limited and a translation reveals thorny points or a meaning which has escaped us, while we can still follow the poem's rhymes, scansion...whatever. I've been enjoying enormously James Joyce's Finnegans Wake after I bought an edition with its companion-translation. The interpretation and rendering is often enlightening or puzzling, but it always promotes a tingling fresh perspective into a complicated book. The translation became an additional treat.
And now, take TOoL: in the present Brazilian edition we find at our left the facsimile of the card (in VN's English longhand) and on the opposite leaf, the text in Portuguese - and I suppose the same will be possible to obtain in the translations into Russian, French, German. Besides, this also results in a book that is much easier hold while reading in bed...

C.Kunin and A. Stadlen apparently came to the same conclusion concerning the comparison I suggested*.
Carolyn wrote: "To me it looks like they are both (sic) saying exactly the same thing." A.Stadlen noted: "But Shade writes of life as a commentary to a poem, not as the poem itself. Kinbote inanely explains to readers what they can read for themselves Shade wrote."
JM: I realized too late that I'd expressed myself badly - and I thank A.Stadlen for his correction ("Shade writes of life...not as the poem itself") - because my intention had been to stress the contrast bt. their lines. They might be "saying exactly the same thing," but style and manner makes all the difference. Shade writes as a poet and Kinbote, as an annotator.
Shade registers his considerations ("a note"!) - in the poem. Kinbote exchanges Shade's more ample word, "commentary," for "footnote" - in a footnote.
After noticing that each man writes after his own fashion (inevitably), I realized other little things. Shade's note for future use has no future (he will die in a few days) and his poem shall remain unfinished. (btw: a point to Cassandra...) For Kinbote, life is unrelated to poems and it is vaguely described as an addition to a "masterpiece."
Other deductions can be put forward... I couldn't really grasp their logic. Whereas Shade believes in a "plexed artistry.. a richly rhymed life" that comes as an expression of fate, Kinbote finds "Man" as the subject of another greater force, but it derives from the will of God.
Their positions are also distinct: Shade ignores his fate and Kinbote feels he controls it,and his own (he shall commit suicide).
In this sense, too, Kinbote is often closer to expressing Nabokov's own vision concerning the world engendered by the omnipotent writer, including his authorial interventions.
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*1- "Man's life as commentary to abstruse/Unfinished poem. Note for further use.(John Shade, PF,lines 939-40)
2- "our poet suggests here that human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece."(Charles Kinbote, footnote to lines 939-40)

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