Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026891, Sat, 27 Feb 2016 09:34:42 -0800

Re: RES: [NABOKV-L] QUERY -- VN and checking translations
On 2/26/16, Jansy Mello <jansy.mello@outlook.com> wrote:
> Jansy Mello: I’m not the best VN reader to give you this information, but 1.
> There are various anecdotes about VN criticizing translations made by other
> writers. In “Ada, or Ardor” you find many paragraphs discussing Cowper and a
> few other translators, there’s Ada, a character in a novel, offering her
> various translations to Van or her father or translating another character’s
> (VN’s poet John Shade, in “Pale Fire”). Amusing commentaries and mistakes in
> translation there’s Kinbote (fiction) on his uncle’s English into Zemblan
> and much more. Two other places to check are VN’s “Strong Opinions” and his
> “Lectures on Literature” (European and Russian) 2. Also to be found in the
> above; 3. VN translated his own works, with various observations in his
> Forewords (such as to “The eye”, to “King,Queen, Knave”), or some of his
> short-stories (with Dmitri and others) and the notes at the end of his
> collected stories (“Nabokov’s Short-Stories”). A fundamental text is VN’s
> translation and notes on Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin”.

Thank you very much for the comments.

VN (Strong Opinions) (in relation to the translations of his books)
"... the system is a strict checking of every sentence. In the
case of Japanese or Turkish versions, I try not to imagine the
disasters that probably bespatter every page. (What are your plans
for future work?) "

------- Did he actually find "disasters" in Japanese or Turkish ?

I found the anecdote about Pope in a book, and it's reproduced here:
Pope didn't hire the translator. It was by Mr. Lintott or the
rival Mr. Tonson.

Last week I thought I saw a relevant message in the archive,
then I had lost it, and yesterday I found it again.

(from Mr. Dieter Zimmer, May 6, 2013)
>>> ............. [VN] He was especially suspicious in the case of ‘Bend Sinister’ the anonymous first English translation of which, commissioned by the Pentagon in 1948 to further German reeducation, after a short check “appalled” him utterly. He rejected its publication downright in a letter written on August 24, 1948, to Col. Joseph I. Greene (‘Selected Letters 1940-1977’, p.85-86). <<<

This letter is not mentioned in
[Vladimir Nabokov : The American Years] by Brian Boyd.
but it's in [Vera], p.133n

I will try to find a confirmation that VN did indeed stop the publication
of this poor translation.

re: back-translation (for checking a translation)
A translation would have to be really poor
for a [back-translation check] to be useful.
(e.g. confusing the verb "fall" and the season "fall" )
Was back-translation (for checking a translation)
actually used by VN or someone else?

I'll continue to be interested in these topics (and back-translation check),
so I'd appreciate help, or comments.
Thank you again. HH

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