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Finnegans Wake in Chinese
Posted: 05 February 2013 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]
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“The things I lost are mostly the sentences, because Joyce’s sentences are so different from common sentences,” she says, adding that she often broke them up into shorter, simpler phrases – otherwise, the average reader “would think that I just mistranslated Joyce. So my translation is more clear than the original book.

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Posted: 05 February 2013 03:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well, yes.

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Posted: 05 February 2013 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Is it supposed to be clear?  I’ve never read it but I thought it was more music than prose.

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Posted: 06 February 2013 05:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Well, yes.

. Its storyline, in itself, is not gripping.
Without Joyce’s entertaining turn of phrase, what do you have? Just a meandering bag of half-crazy

I suspect the same is true of Kafka and that, by not learning German, I’ve missed much that is great.

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Posted: 06 February 2013 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’ve missed much that is great.

You haven’t missed a thing, OP Tipping.  You can be a very “well-read” person by getting hold of a a list of writers who are considered “good” or “great”, and a copy of the “Oxford Book of Quotations”. Very few people will ever contradict you, or correct you, because an awful lot of them haven’t read any of that stuff either (be careful with aldiboronti, though - he’s tricky ;-).

As for non-English writers - see Stephen Potter on “Lifemanship”—the part about “Rilking”.

Ephraim Kishon, an Israel humorist, once memorably carried out a survey on a roomful of people who were critically discussing Dr. Zhivago. He found that the furthest anybody had got through the book, was one chap who’d actually made it to page 26.

;-)

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Posted: 06 February 2013 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I don’t know, I think Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” is certainly worth a read, since, whether it deserves all the praise heaped on its head or not, it is certainly thought provoking, and by no means painful to tread through.  (I can’t vouch for whether reading it in the original German adds to one’s experience or not, only having read it in English.) What did at least mildly hamper my reading of it, though, was that, for some reason, the course syllabus described it, IIRC, as a tale about “a young man’s gradual transformation into an insect.” [Spoiler alert: the transformation occurs instantaneously.] All I can figure is that the professor (or TA?) meant that while the protagonist underwent an immediate physical transformation, his inner transformation was much more gradual.

Speaking of German works being translated into English, I’ve heard the interesting, if quite possibly aprocryphal, story that many German philosophy students prefer to read the English translation of some of Kant’s works (particularly the “Critique of Pure Reason") to the original German, as the English versions are said to be easier to follow.  I did a little googling to try to either confirm or debunk this story, but found nothing conclusive.

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Posted: 06 February 2013 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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the interesting, if quite possibly aprocryphal, story that many German philosophy students prefer to read the English translation of some of Kant’s works

I recall hearing the same thing about Heisenberg.  I don’t know if it’s true, but having been compelled to read some of his philosophical writings in the original German, I find it plausible.

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Posted: 06 February 2013 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Maybe I haven’t expressed myself well. I love Kafka. but sense I am only getting half the picture.

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Posted: 06 February 2013 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Ah.  I was taking literally the statement that “Finnegans Wake” is a “meandering bag of half crazy,” leavened only by entertaining turns of phrase, and the statement that you suspected that “the same” was true of Kafka (with the exception that some of the cleverness of K’s turns of phrases might have been lost in translation).  I had a feeling that that might not be quite what you meant, but still felt it was worth noting that there is more to Kafka than clever turns of phrases.  In fact, I don’t really remember any of the turns of phrases employed in “The Metamorphosis”, but do recall, quite well, its strange and strangely compelling story, and the ideas it evoked.

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Posted: 06 February 2013 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’ve never attempted Finnegan’s Wake, but I quite enjoyed Ulysses, which I understand to be more comprehensible.

I don’t think Ulysses succeeds as a coherent work, mainly because Joyce is trying to do too much at once, but it’s glorious in its failure, and every passage has its delights. It contains some truly astounding writing. It’s also a book, that if you read a crib sheet on the overall narrative and what happens in each episode, you can dip into and out of, skipping about. You don’t have to read it all in one go. It’s definitely one of the books that every serious reader should at least attempt.

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Posted: 07 February 2013 03:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Of course, if you want the story behind Finnegan’s Wake.

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Posted: 07 February 2013 06:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Lovely site - thank you!

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Posted: 07 February 2013 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin Street

Is Walkin St a mondegreen? I’ve always seen and heard Watling St. Maybe the mondegreen is in my eye.

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Posted: 07 February 2013 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I can’t comment on the loss of subtle meaning for Kafka translated from german to english, but on a substantially different intellectual plane I once watched a Mark Brothers film with french subtitles.  It certainly served as an example of futility…

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Posted: 07 February 2013 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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OP Tipping - 06 February 2013 05:17 AM

I suspect the same is true of Kafka and that, by not learning German, I’ve missed much that is great.

Here is a pretty informative Grauniad article on the (2006) translation of Kafka’s oeuvre and the difficulties in translating.

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Posted: 07 February 2013 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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What is it, then, that Hofmann knows and the others don’t? What makes a great translation these days? I think I already know.

So tell us, Mr Rourke!

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