I’m still reading Chukovsky’s Diary, 1901-1969 (see this post), and I’ve come across a couple of short, striking passages I wanted to share. (Russian below the cut.) On endings:

Amazing! English writers don’t know how to end their works. The best of them turn to the most shameful commonplaces. They start off brilliantly, all fresh energy and muscles, but the ending is trivial, cobbled together from cliches. I’ve just finished Far from the Madding Crowd. Who would have expected Thomas Hardy to turn into such a vulgarian! Everything is perfectly predictable: one villain ends up in prison, another in the grave, and the third, the hero, after the requisite anxieties and impediments ends up in the arms of Bathsheba, the woman he was meant to marry.

And on plagiarism:

[Sologub] had a playful way of talking about his plagiarisms. “[Aleksandr] Redko found a passage I’d plagiarized from a trashy French novel and printed it en regard. All that proves is that he reads trashy French novels. What he didn’t notice was that at nearly the same spot I’d cribbed five or so pages from George Eliot. Which proves that he doesn’t read serious literature.”

I disapprove of plagiarism, but that’s pretty funny.

Изумительно: английские писатели не умеют кончать. Лучшие из них — к концу сбиваются на позорную пошлость. Начинают они превосходно — энергично, свежо, мускулисто, а конец у них тривиальный, сфабрикованный по готовому штампу. Я только что закончил «Far from the Madding Crowd»,— кто мог ожидать, что даже Томас Гарди окажется таким пошляком! Все как по-писаному: один неподходящий мужчина в тюрьме, другой — в могиле, а третий, самый лучший, после всех препон и треволнений женится, наконец, на уготованной ему Батшибе.
* * *
Очень игриво говорил он о своих плагиатах. «Редько,— говорил он,— отыскал у меня плагиат из дрянного французского романа и напечатал en regard*. Это только показывает, что он читает плохие французские романы. А между тем у меня чуть ли не на той же странице плагиат из Джордж Элиот, я так и скатал страниц пять,— и он не заметил. Это показывает, что серьезной литературы он не знает».


  1. printed it en regard.
    That’s neat and new to me ! Now I can choose between three French expressions (the others being vis-à-vis and en face) to stress-test the knowledge levels of my fellow citizens – at least those of them who read such editions.

  2. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly, those three expressions have similar but not identical meanings and contexts.
    En face (de…) has two meanings: ‘facing each other across a common space’ (eg the house across the street, the apartment across the corridor, the person across the table), or, in (se) regarder en face ‘to look at someone (or each other) in the eyes’. This is the most commonly used of all three expressions.
    En vis-à-vis implies that the positions of the two whatevers (not usually people) which are “looking at each other” are intentional, for instance that two buildings have been built together and symmetrically across a plaza, city park, etc, or two wings of a U-shaped building across a courtyard, parking lot, etc.
    En regard means ‘on the opposite page, but in the same place on the page’ (as with many bilingual texts) and does not seem to be used in other contexts.

  3. Is there no brief English expression for the kind of layout you have in the bilingual texts of the Loeb Classical Library, for instance ? Is it necessary to use a lot of words, such as “Renaissance works in Latin with a facing English translation” ?

  4. I would say that calling something a bilingual edition implicates (defeasibly) that the two languages are en regard. Christopher Tolkien’s edition of JRRT’s edition and translation of King Heidrek the Wise is not only facing, but actually uses the same page numbers on both faces; portions of the book that are in English only are folioed conventionally.

  5. It was the phrase in the Chukovsky translation, so it sounds like en regard is the conventional usage in English too.
    m-l, that’s very helpful. I tried googling this, but it wasn’t clear. No big deal — I’ve no plans to use it in the foreseeable future, unfortunately — but does en vis-à-vis imply that, in the case of 2 buildings opposite each other, they might be symmetrically mirrored?

  6. I mean mirror images, so that what’s on the right hand side of building A’s facade is on the left of building B.

  7. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, I am not sure, but I am not an architect.

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