Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017202, Sun, 19 Oct 2008 09:15:47 -0200

[NABOKOV-List] [NABOKOV-L] Midges in Lolita and remnants of the
Post-Scriptum on Dawn's left hand...
Cf. long postings on Nabokov-L, 29 Sept.2007. Excerpts:

JM...:Borges praises FitzGerald's translation of Khayyám, for example, by his having added the word "left" to obtain a delicate and forebodingly "sinister" effect: "Dreaming when dawn's left hand was in the sky/ I heard a voice within the tavern cry..."
S.K-B: ...As you hint, seeking 'precision' is problematical when the original is deliberately 'unprecise' playful, or ambiguous, as is the case with what we call 'poetry.' [...] VN was uniquely placed to tackle the 'translation' challenge; his essays on the subject have the edge over Borges' lectures (useful though they are) clinched by VN's towering achievements with Alice (into Russian) and (over-toweringly) with Onegin (into English). Here we have a writer close to Pushkin's creative genius equally 'fluent' in English and Pushkinese (to coin an ugly term for what was then almost a rebirth of the Russian language). Whether we call it 'translation' or 'literal recreation,' the aim of VN's Onegin is to provide the non-Slavophone with as close an insight as possible to the original without pretending that all the glorious nuances can be captured. I'm tempted to call it 'extreme rendition,' but I gather that that phrase has been co-opted by the military...

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