Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025907, Fri, 26 Dec 2014 10:09:17 -0200

A passing view on VN's theories of translation...
Distractions and columns not written

By Alex Beam DECEMBER 25, 2014


I hated the Oxford dictionary because it failed to disclose that it was
one-half English-Russian. I know English, Q.E.D., thus about half of the
90,000 advertised words were already known to me.

I know Russian, too, but I certainly don't know enough Russian to fully
savor the seventy line long "Pedal Digression" in Alexander Pushkin's novel
in verse, "Eugene Onegin." That's right; Pushkin devotes four sonnet-length
stanzas of rhymed, iambic tetrameter to praising young women's feet. And why
not? I've been known to appreciate a well-turned ankle myself.

Where was I? Right, Pushkin. There is a character named Jack Pushkin in the
novel I just finished reading, Meg Wolitzer's "The Interestings." It's a
good novel, I recommend it, although in the "Jeopardy!'' category of
"Russian Authors as Characters in Modern Novels" it would place second to
Jhumpa Lahiri's wonderful "The Namesake." The father of the title character
names his child Nikolai Gogol because he was reading Gogol's story "The
Overcoat" when he miraculously survived a train wreck.

(Vladimir Nabokov bored everyone he met by insisting that "The Overcoat" -
"Shinel'" in Russian, and no, I didn't need the dictionary for that - should
be properly translated "The Carrick." That idea was (1) incomprehensible and
(2) nonsense. Nabokov also hated Dostoyevsky and insisted that "Notes from
the Underground" should better be called "Memoirs from a Mousehole.")

I'm wandering a bit here . . .

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