LA FANGE DU MACADAM.

I’ve finished reading Marshall Berman’s All That Is Solid Melts into Air (see this recent post), and I’m already looking forward to rereading it in a few years—it’s one of those books you keep going back to as you accumulate more knowledge and understanding. It makes me interested in Goethe’s Faust in a way I’ve never been before (and now I can’t find my copy, which I dragged around for years despite being sure I’d never get around to reading it), gives me new insights into Dostoevsky (and makes it clear how Notes from Underground is in some respects a response to Chernyshevsky’s What Is to Be Done?, in particular the Crystal Palace rant), and confronts Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs in new and interesting ways, among many, many other things. I won’t even try to summarize his argument; instead, I’ll quote a brief bit about language from the Baudelaire chapter:

Consider a phrase like la fange du macadam, “the mire of the macadam.” La fange in French is not only a literal word for mud; it is also a figurative word for mire, filth, vileness, corruption, degradation, all that is foul and loathsome. In classical oratorical and poetic diction, it is a “high” way of describing something “low.” As such, it entails a whole cosmic hierarchy, a structure of norms and values not only aesthetic but metaphysical, ethical, political. La fange might be the nadir of the moral universe whose summit is signified by l’auréole ['the halo': Baudelaire's prose poem "Loss of a Halo" centers on a poet whose halo "slipped off my head and fell into the mire of the macadam"]. The irony here is that, so long as the poet’s halo falls into “la fange,” it can never be wholly lost, because, so long as such an image still has meaning and power—as it clearly has for Baudelaire—the old hierarchical cosmos is still present on some plane of the modern world. But it is present precariously. The meaning of macadam is as radically destructive to la fange as to l’auréole: it paves over high and low alike.
We can go deeper into the macadam: we will notice that the word isn’t French. In fact, the word is derived from John McAdam of Glasgow, the eighteenth-century inventor of modern paving surface. It may be the first word in that language that twentieth-century Frenchmen have satirically named Franglais: it paves the way for le parking, le shopping, le weekend, le drugstore, le mobile-home, and far more. This language is so vital and compelling because it is the international language of modernization. Its new words are powerful vehicles of new modes of life and motion. The words may sound dissonant and jarring, but it is as futile to resist them as to resist the momentum of modernization itself.

And in a footnote on the same page, he mentions the Brooklyn Dodgers as an exemplar of modernism: “The name expresses the way in which urban survival skills—specifically, skill at dodging traffic (they were at first called the Trolley Dodgers)—can transcend utility and take on new modes of meaning and value, in sport as in art. Baudelaire would have loved this symbolism, as many of his twentieth-century successors (ee cummings, Marianne Moore) did.” I love this guy, and I thank Noetica again for the book.


I do have some minor gripes about his dealings with Russian literature. He admits up front that he knows no Russian, so his mistakes are forgivable, but I still want to correct them. For some reason he thinks Neva (the name of Petersburg’s river) means ‘mud’; he says this twice. It doesn’t. He treats Edmund Wilson’s prose translation of “The Bronze Horseman” as though it were Pushkin’s text, which is understandable but leads him into error when he quotes “he had to work for decent independence” and adds “irony here, because we will see how indecently dependent he is forced to be”: the Russian has nothing corresponding to “decent.” He refers to “Znaniemsky” Square (should be Znamiensky) and Gogol’s character “Pishkarev” (should be Piskarev or Piskaryov). Most seriously, on page 201 he quotes this line from Gogol’s wonderful story “Nevsky Prospect” (which he analyzes brilliantly): “Don’t look into the shop windows: the frippery they display is lovely, but smells of assignations.” He then says “Assignations, of course, are what this whole story has been about.” Unfortunately, the Russian text says “пахнут страшным количеством ассигнаций”: ‘they smell of a frightful quantity of banknotes’—literally assignats. I don’t know where he got “but smells of assignations” (he drew on several translations, but Google finds that phrase only in his book), but it’s a mistranslation plain and simple.

Comments

  1. “paves the way”, ho, ho. Didn’t realise he had a sense of humour too. Okay, I’ll get it.

  2. “paves the way”, ho, ho. Didn’t realise he had a sense of humour too. Okay, I’ll get it.

  3. ee cummings

    grrrr

  4. Vance Maverick says:

    Citations in one dictionary aren’t decisive, but they can establish strong contenders. bifteck is attested in one way or another back to 1805 at least, 1735 in a variant (but specifically referring to England there); macadam to 1829.

  5. Yeah, obviously he’s not an authority on language history, but at least he says “may be.”
    AJP: I will be fascinated to hear your response to his sections on the Crystal Palace and on Moses/Jacob. (Hm, I’ll bet John Cowan can come up with a joke for that.)

  6. I found the part on Faust fascinating and illuminating, and he kept my interest during the sections on Marx. Then it sort of dissipated. I dropped the book before finishing it (I work on early 20th c, so I skipped all the post-war stuff), but the dropping largely happened since the book had started becoming a drag.
    Surprisingly, I wasn’t even *that* fascinated with the St. Pete stuff, which made me sad, since I thought I would be. On the other hand, the parts on Paris got me more excited about my new city of residence than anything else has–save my vélib’ pass.
    I think, though, that I was biased against the book because of the gratuitous shots Berman takes at Brasília in the preface.

  7. it paves the way for le parking, le shopping, le weekend, le drugstore, le mobile-home, and far more
    In French weekend is written with a hyphen, to better separate the week and its end.
    On Mars there is another Mac that is used to talk of a civil works item: there “MacAlpine” can mean the sewer network — which won’t take us too far from la fange —, especially when the streets are in the process of being ripped apart to put the big pipes in the ground. As far as I know this is because the first sewer pipes were laid by a British company called McAlpine. People would then for instance say, in French or in Creole, that “at their place they haven’t got MacAlpine yet”.

  8. The text of Goethe’s Faust is available at Bartleby, Google books, Project Gutenberg, and others for reading online or for downloading.

  9. I found that Jacobs & Moses reference intriguing, and I’m always interested in the Crystal Palace.
    Moacir: I think, though, that I was biased against the book because of the gratuitous shots Berman takes at Brasília in the preface.
    You shouldn’t be. Everyone took free shots at Brasilia from the early ‘seventies to the late ‘eighties. It was seen as a Corbusian, monumental piece of anti-urbanism and the cause of what were seen later as very costly planning mistakes: places like the mall in Albany, N.Y. (“Brasilia on the Hudson”), of which there are many good pictures here (I can’t vouch for the writing, which I haven’t read yet). Subsequently, distinctions started to be drawn between the cities theorised and designed by modernist architects, at the behest of people like the dreaded (late-) Robert Moses, and the actual buildings these architects made. At that point people in the northern hemisphere stopped badmouthing Oscar Niemeyer and started interviewing him and taking pictures of Brasilia. Now he’s over 100 he’s seen as the grand old man of modernism and everyone’s glad that he outlived the international opprobrium, even though he never had to endure it at home in Brazil.

  10. I found that Jacobs & Moses reference intriguing, and I’m always interested in the Crystal Palace.
    Moacir: I think, though, that I was biased against the book because of the gratuitous shots Berman takes at Brasília in the preface.
    You shouldn’t be. Everyone took free shots at Brasilia from the early ‘seventies to the late ‘eighties. It was seen as a Corbusian, monumental piece of anti-urbanism and the cause of what were seen later as very costly planning mistakes: places like the mall in Albany, N.Y. (“Brasilia on the Hudson”), of which there are many good pictures here (I can’t vouch for the writing, which I haven’t read yet). Subsequently, distinctions started to be drawn between the cities theorised and designed by modernist architects, at the behest of people like the dreaded (late-) Robert Moses, and the actual buildings these architects made. At that point people in the northern hemisphere stopped badmouthing Oscar Niemeyer and started interviewing him and taking pictures of Brasilia. Now he’s over 100 he’s seen as the grand old man of modernism and everyone’s glad that he outlived the international opprobrium, even though he never had to endure it at home in Brazil.

  11. In Chinese a normal word for wider roads is “马路” (mǎlù). “lù” means road, while “mǎ” is normally hold as the first syllable of “Macadam”.

  12. I read All That Is Solid… in a class taught by Douglas Kellner, and we read Faust afterwards. I think it’s a pity that US universities don’t teach literature together with some critical apparatus (at least at the undergraduate level) the way they often do in Europe. I graduated with a degree in Rus. Lit. from an at least decent department (UT Austin) without reading a single word by Belinsky, Bely (his critical writings), to say nothing of Bakhtin, etc. (I can’t even name that many Russian critics…)
    Reading Faust after reading All That Is Solid… was possibly the first time I was able to approach a major work with some kind of understanding of what it meant in a larger social and historical context, and not have to worry about describing “themes of man vs. nature” or whatever other kind of BS we’d have to write about in our literature classes.
    minus273 –
    Wouldn’t it be simpler to assume that it’s wider because it was originally used for horses (馬/马) and horse-drawn carriages or buggies?

  13. Sigfried McSuitor: “MacAlpine” can mean the sewer network
    The company is called — atypically, and quite pompously — Sir Robert McAlpine, after its founder. So perhaps you ought to tell people to call their sewer pipes “Sir Robert McAlpines”, just so there is no confusion.

  14. Sigfried McSuitor: “MacAlpine” can mean the sewer network
    The company is called — atypically, and quite pompously — Sir Robert McAlpine, after its founder. So perhaps you ought to tell people to call their sewer pipes “Sir Robert McAlpines”, just so there is no confusion.

  15. I’m always interested in the Crystal Palace
    Crown, you might be interested in Sloterdijk’s Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals in this connection. There’s no English translation yet, but perhaps you could read it in French: Le palais de cristal : A l’intérieur du capitalisme planétaire. The translator is Olivier Mannoni. He’s translated a number of Sloterdijk’s books, and written a few of his own, including a biography of Günter Grass. I suspect the translations are good, since Sloterdijk is bilingual and can judge of their quality.
    Weltinnenraum is a word that turns up in one of Rilke’s poems. I think Le palais de cristal is a good translation of Sloterdijk’s title for several reasons. For one thing, the Kristallpalast is a central organizing phenomenon and metaphor of the book. Also, Weltinnenraum – which is not a standard German word, but a perfectly unexceptionable German word – can be taken to be something like “the designer interior that is the world”, which Sloterdijk does. I can’t remember the context in Rilke’s poem, and don’t have Sloterdijk’s book at hand.

  16. Sir Robert McAlpine, 1st Baronet (13 February 1847 in Forth, Lanarkshire – 3 November 1934), known as “Concrete Bob”.
    On second thought, I don’t think it’s right that French-speaking persons — the inventors of reinforced concrete, no less — should be calling their pipes after a Scotsman known as Concrete Bob.

  17. Sir Robert McAlpine, 1st Baronet (13 February 1847 in Forth, Lanarkshire – 3 November 1934), known as “Concrete Bob”.
    On second thought, I don’t think it’s right that French-speaking persons — the inventors of reinforced concrete, no less — should be calling their pipes after a Scotsman known as Concrete Bob.

  18. Sad to say, I’d be better off reading it in tysk. Thanks for the tip, I’d love to read it. Maybe it’s time for someone to do a compilation of tracts about world expos; there are the pieces about the Eiffel tower, like Roland Barthes’, and I bet there are some about the Chicago Columbian Exhibition too.

  19. Sad to say, I’d be better off reading it in tysk. Thanks for the tip, I’d love to read it. Maybe it’s time for someone to do a compilation of tracts about world expos; there are the pieces about the Eiffel tower, like Roland Barthes’, and I bet there are some about the Chicago Columbian Exhibition too.

  20. Crown, I’m not sure how you mean “tracts,” but it seems like the White City of the Chicago Expo has been rebuilt in full by the number of pages devoted to it. I liked Chris Ware’s fictionalization of it in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, but it seems like I continuously stumble upon people writing about it academically.
    Ooh. Looking for the title of a piece I read by Mae Ngai about the exposition (“Transnationalism and the Transformation of the “Other”: Response to the Presidential Address,” in American Quarterly 57.1 (2005): 59-65) led to this bibliography of the Columbian Exposition.

  21. There you are, I knew it.
    I didn’t really mean tracts, I just meant interesting writings having some connection with world fairs

  22. There you are, I knew it.
    I didn’t really mean tracts, I just meant interesting writings having some connection with world fairs

  23. I can’t remember the context in Rilke’s poem
    Here it is on an eponymous web site. Be warned, though, that the choice of stylesheet makes it rather hard to read, in my opinion. A quick check elsewhere only finds excerpts.

  24. The name of the river derives from the Finnish word Neva, which means болото (swamp, marsh)in Russian, according to the Словарь географических названий. So maybe Berman associated “mud” with “swamps”?

  25. stopped badmouthing Oscar Niemeyer
    Back in the early ’90s, the BAC had a bookstore. Since in those days, before the internets made it trivial to find more books than one could ever read, one had to seek out things of interest, on one visit we asked about monographs on Niemeyer. (To be fair, there probably weren’t many in English, even though he’d won the Pritzker a few years before.) First Clerk had never heard of him and Second Clerk just knew he was a South American architect. (I’m sure they both went on to rewarding careers designing McMansions.)
    taking pictures of Brasilia
    And not just the Congress Building from an odd angle along a deserted Eixo Monumental. But like students doing what students do around the ICC building at UnB.
    world fairs
    As I’m sure you know, Niemeyer and Costa did the Brazilian Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair.

  26. I don’t think that sewer workers should be ennobled. Where will it end?

  27. Marc: Too bad about your experiences, but literature at my university was always taught with some critical apparatus, at least in the English dept. English 101, a required course for all majors, was precisely the class that taught one how to read along with a critical apparatus. (I felt terribly sorry for the Econ major in the class who just wanted to learn how to “write better.” Our school provided separate classes for that.) Though my school prides itself on this sort of thing, too.
    On the other hand, the yearlong humanities sequence all first-years take could, depending on the sequence, totally avoid critical texts.
    MMcM: Visiting Niemeyer’s PCF headquarters was one of the first things I did upon coming to Paris (my photo).

  28. Siganus Sutor says:

    French-speaking persons — the inventors of reinforced concrete, no less
    AJP, I’m wondering what link there could be between the fact of speaking French and the invention of reinforced concrete. I’m trying really hard (at least 50 MPa), but…
    Bah, laisse béton. (De toute façon il n’y pas de macalpine chez moi, the septic tank doing a fine job without any baronet around.)
    A few French words that sound English but that are not: une(e) speaker/speakerine, un tennisman, un parking (car park), un dancing, un… er… un… er… un string.

  29. Thanks, MMcM. Here’s the bit from the poem where the general reader might feel called upon to close his eyes and become one with the universe. Sloterdijk prefers to talk about both the treacheries and comforts of inner spaces: Im Weltinnenraum des Kapitals.
    Durch alle Wesen reicht der eine Raum:
    Weltinnenraum. Die Vögel fliegen still
    durch uns hindurch. O, der ich wachsen will,
    ich seh hinaus, und in mir wächst der Baum.

    Through all beings one space extends:
    World’s inner space. Birds fly in silence
    Straight through us. Ah, I who would grow
    look outwards, and in me grows the tree.

  30. at least in Francaise there be no Crapper [C***}

  31. I need a poem by languagehat favorite Kornei Chukovsky translated into English. Does anyone know a suitable translator?

  32. I’m wondering what link there could be between the fact of speaking French and the invention of reinforced concrete.
    Yes, apparently it has something to do with dark matter. The US government is hoping to clear it up soon.

  33. I’m wondering what link there could be between the fact of speaking French and the invention of reinforced concrete.
    Yes, apparently it has something to do with dark matter. The US government is hoping to clear it up soon.

  34. First Clerk had never heard of him
    I went into a bookstore in Edinburgh, Blackwell I think, around 1973, looking for Unto This Last. None of the (young) clerks had heard of Ruskin. The best bit was that they thought I had mistaken the author’s name – because they didn’t know it.
    Oh well, they are there to assist, not to be knowledgable.
    Clerk: May I help you ?
    Customer: That depends on how old you are !

  35. Crown, based on your claim I had securely fastened in my mind the information that the French invented reinforced concrete. Now you’re saying you made that up ??

  36. Yes, the French invented it. The big names here are Hennebique and Auguste Perret, but the pediment of Soufflot’s Ste Geneviève (now the Panthéon), in Paris, which dates fron the mid-eighteenth century, is a stone assembly with iron reinforcement that works very much like reinforced concrete. Grumbly Sig is referring to my having written “French speaking”, so I that could include him and his engineer friends who live outside l’hexagone.

  37. Yes, the French invented it. The big names here are Hennebique and Auguste Perret, but the pediment of Soufflot’s Ste Geneviève (now the Panthéon), in Paris, which dates fron the mid-eighteenth century, is a stone assembly with iron reinforcement that works very much like reinforced concrete. Grumbly Sig is referring to my having written “French speaking”, so I that could include him and his engineer friends who live outside l’hexagone.

  38. MMcM: we asked about monographs on Niemeyer
    I bet even their architecture library is better than mine.

  39. I need a poem by languagehat favorite Kornei Chukovsky translated into English.
    Which poem?

  40. The Stolen Sun.

  41. Краденое солнце?

  42. I don’t read Russian, but long ago I read a book called “The Living Mirror: Poets of Leningrad” and one of the poets,ly not Brodsky, turned out to know a lot about reinforced concrete. It turned out that the Soviet educational system steered potential poets into tech fields and several of the poets had some kind of engineering-type training.

  43. Wallace Stevens was a lawyer in the insurance industry, so even American poets can sometimes be productive members of society. ;-)
    More recently, wasn’t Dana Gioia some big-wig at General Foods or something?

  44. AJP’s linked passage on the making of the Empire State Plaza refers to book by Robert Hughes called “The Shock of The New: The Hundred-Year History of Modern Art Its Rise, Its Dazzling Achievement, Its Fall”. Sounds like a very interesting discussion of how modernism and how it came about.

  45. I was interested to read “The Fatal Shore”, by Robert Hughes, but he’s a quite conservative art critic and I wouldn’t trust his judgment on contemporary art. Still, I think I enjoyed The Shock of The New when it was on telly in the ‘Eighties.
    On concrete & poetry, W.H. Auden said “when civilization is becoming monotonously the same all the world over…in poetry, at least, there cannot be an ‘International Style’.”‘ But the great practitioners of reinforced concrete are modernist poets and not “lawyers in the insurance industry”. Concrete is not bound by the erector-set /Meccano-like rectilinear frame logic that created the International Style. There’s a good book by David Billington called “The Tower and The Bridge“, and another called Robert Maillart’s Bridges (there’s also Billington’s Robert Maillart and the Art of Reinforced Concrete, but it’s $75). Finally there’s Ken Frampton’s Studies in Tectonic Culture: The Poetics of Construction in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Architecture. Frampton pretty much invented his subject, I’d say.

  46. Frampton, as far as I remember, Dressing Gown, dates the beginning of modernism in architecture to the mid-eighteenth century and Soufflot’s Ste Geneviève, mentioned above. I don’t see how Hughes could do modern art in 100 years, even if he wrote it thirty years ago. He’s an amusing guy, though. I’m interested in reading the Berman (though amazon says I’m not going to get it until February).

  47. Краденое солнце
    Ah, that’s pretty long. I could knock out a rough prose translation if that’s all you need, but if you want a poetic version you may be out of luck.
    the Soviet educational system steered potential poets into tech fields
    Not poets so much as Jews and other disfavored minorities whom they didn’t want taking places in the philology/literature departments away from real Russians.

  48. Well, let’s not go overboard. Not every unpainted-concrete box built in the 20th century was an instance of small-gasp-inducing frozen music.
    By the way, David, I’ll give the poem a shot, but only if the actual Russian-speakers here are willing to give it a once-over for howlers, pearls, and other gems. ;-)

  49. I’m interested in reading the Berman (though amazon says I’m not going to get it until February).
    The Norse postal reindeer take a well-deserved break after Christmas. My copy will be here in a few days.
    The Finns used reindeer as pack animals during the Winter War against the USSR.

  50. only if the actual Russian-speakers here are willing to give it a once-over
    Sure, I’d be glad to.

  51. Incidentally, while the discussion is on names and Berman, Kellner (who knew Berman personally) pronounced his name “beer-mun.”

  52. Not every soap commercial in the 20th century was an instance of poetry. Well, let’s not go overboard. Nobody said it was.

  53. Not every soap commercial in the 20th century was an instance of poetry. Well, let’s not go overboard. Nobody said it was.

  54. The Finns used reindeer as pack animals during the Winter War against the USSR.
    Domestication of moose was investigated in the Soviet Union before World War II, according to wiki. Apparently there are still some Russian domestic mice. They’re a lot bigger than reindeer; I guess they just aren’t into lugging things around for other people.

  55. The Finns used reindeer as pack animals during the Winter War against the USSR.
    Domestication of moose was investigated in the Soviet Union before World War II, according to wiki. Apparently there are still some Russian domestic mice. They’re a lot bigger than reindeer; I guess they just aren’t into lugging things around for other people.

  56. My copy will be here in a few days.
    See, I think mine will too. They’re trying to get me to either pay more for postage, like it wasn’t already more than the cost of the book, or buy one of their plastic Beam Me Up Scotty reading machines (not before Hell freezes over).

  57. My copy will be here in a few days.
    See, I think mine will too. They’re trying to get me to either pay more for postage, like it wasn’t already more than the cost of the book, or buy one of their plastic Beam Me Up Scotty reading machines (not before Hell freezes over).

  58. Well, I’ve seen some soap commercials would bring a tear to your eye, they would. ;-)
    Anyway, here’s the poem, in all its interlinear glory. I tried to maintain the rhythm, but didn’t attempt to rhyme. It’s fairly literal, except where I thought I found a nice turn of phrase (in like two places…). In all, it’s a beast, but I’m looking forward to the comments.
    Incidentally, this is Soviet allegory, right? Who’s Crocodile supposed to be, in 1927?
    КРАДЕНОЕ СОЛНЦЕ
    THE PURLOINED SUN
    Солнце по небу гуляло
    И за тучу забежало.
    Глянул заинька в окно,
    Стало заиньке темно.
    The sun walked through the sky
    And ran behind a cloud.
    The rabbit looked out his window,
    And everything went dark.
    А сороки-
    Белобоки
    Поскакали по полям,
    Закричали журавлям:
    “Горе! Горе! Крокодил
    Солнце в небе проглотил!”
    The white-flanked
    Swallows
    Sped across the fields,
    They yelled up at the cranes:
    “Misery! Misery! Crocodile
    Has swallowed up the sun in the sky!”
    Наступила темнота.
    Не ходи за ворота:
    Кто на улицу попал -
    Заблудился и пропал.
    Then came the darkness.
    Don’t venture past the gate:
    If you wind up on the street,
    You’ll lose your way and disappear.
    Плачет серый воробей:
    “Выйди, солнышко, скорей!
    Нам без солнышка обидно -
    В поле зёрнышка не видно!”
    The gray sparrow cries:
    “Come out, dear sun, come out!
    It’s hard on us without you,
    The field is bare – not one small grain!”
    Плачут зайки
    На лужайке:
    Сбились, бедные, с пути,
    Им до дому не дойти.
    In the meadow
    The rabbits weep:
    They’ve lost their way, poor things,
    And can’t get home.
    Только раки пучеглазые
    По земле во мраке лазают,
    Да в овраге за горою
    Волки бешеные воют.
    Only the bug-eyed crabs
    Crawl around the ground in the dark,
    While in the comb, beyond the mountain
    The frantic wolves howl.
    Рано-рано
    Два барана
    Застучали в ворота:
    Тра-та-та и тра-та-та!
    Very early,
    Two goats
    Knocked on the gate:
    Tap-tap-tap and tap-tap-tap!
    “Эй вы, звери, выходите,
    Крокодила победите,
    Чтобы жадный Крокодил
    Солнце в небо воротил!”
    “Hey, you wild things, come on out,
    Give that Croc a well-earned rout,
    Make that greedy such-and-such
    Put the sun back in the sky!”
    Но мохнатые боятся:
    “Где нам с этаким сражаться!
    Он и грозен и зубаст,
    Он нам солнца не отдаст!”
    И бегут они к Медведю в берлогу:
    “Выходи-ка ты, Медведь, на подмогу.
    Полно лапу тебе, лодырю, сосать.
    Надо солнышко идти выручать!”
    But the shaggy beasts are scared:
    “Where are we to fight him!
    He’s fearsome and sharp of tooth,
    He won’t return the sun to *us*!”
    So they run to Bear in his cave:
    “Come on out, Bear, and lend a hand.
    Quit licking your paws, you idler,
    And go get us back our sun!”
    Но Медведю воевать неохота:
    Ходит-ходит он, Медведь, круг болота,
    Он и плачет, Медведь, и ревёт,
    Медвежат он из болота зовёт:
    But Bear is no mood for battle:
    Round and round the bog he goes,
    Crying, roaring
    For his bear-cubs from the bog:
    “Ой, куда вы, толстопятые, сгинули?
    На кого вы меня, старого, кинули?”
    “Where have my chubby-pawed cubs disappeared to?
    Who have you thrown old me onto? [кинуть на кого--meaning?]”
    А в болоте Медведица рыщет,
    Медвежат под корягами ищет:
    “Куда вы, куда вы пропали?
    Или в канаву упали?
    Или шальные собаки
    Вас разорвали во мраке?”
    И весь день она по лесу бродит,
    Но нигде медвежат не находит.
    Только чёрные совы из чащи
    На неё свои очи таращат.
    In the bog, Momma Bear scrambles,
    Looking for her cubs beneath the tree stumps:
    “Where, where have you gotten to?
    Did you fall into the creek?
    Or did some crazy hounds
    Tear you to bits in the dark?”
    She paces the forest the whole day long,
    But doesn’t find her cubs anywhere.
    Only the black owls from the thicket
    Follow her with their eyes.
    Тут зайчиха выходила
    И Медведю говорила:
    “Стыдно старому реветь -
    Ты не заяц, а Медведь.
    Ты поди-ка, косолапый,
    Крокодила исцарапай,
    Разорви его на части,
    Вырви солнышко из пасти.
    И когда оно опять
    Будет на небе сиять,
    Малыши твои мохнатые,
    Медвежата толстопятые,
    Сами к дому прибегут:
    “Здравствуй, дедушка, мы тут!”
    Now the rabbit came out
    And told the Bear:
    “You should be ashamed – roaring at your age.
    You’re not a rabbit, but a Bear.
    You get going, old club-foot,
    And scratch up that crocodile,
    Tear him to bits,
    And snatch our sun out of his maw.
    And when it’s back
    Aglitter in the sky,
    Your furry little dear ones,
    Your big-pawed bear cubs,
    Will run home on their own:
    “Hello, Grandfather, we’re here!”
    И встал
    Медведь,
    Зарычал
    Медведь,
    И к Большой Реке
    Побежал
    Медведь.
    So Bear
    Stood up,
    And Bear
    Began to Roar,
    And Bear
    Took off
    to Big River.
    А в Большой Реке
    Крокодил
    Лежит,
    И в зубах его
    Не огонь горит,-
    Солнце красное,
    Солнце краденое.
    For it’s in Big River
    That Crocodile
    Lies.
    It’s not fire that glows
    Between his teeth,
    But the burning sun,
    The purloined sun.
    Подошёл Медведь тихонько,
    Толканул его легонько:
    “Говорю тебе, злодей,
    Выплюнь солнышко скорей!
    А не то, гляди, поймаю,
    Пополам переломаю,-
    Будешь ты, невежа, знать
    Наше солнце воровать!
    Ишь разбойничья порода:
    Цапнул солнце с небосвода
    И с набитым животом
    Завалился под кустом
    Да и хрюкает спросонья,
    Словно сытая хавронья.
    Пропадает целый свет,
    А ему и горя нет!”
    Bear stole up in silence,
    Tapped him lightly:
    “Now you hear me, you villain,
    You spit out that sun right now!
    If not, just watch, I’ll grab you
    And tear you down the middle -
    And then you’ll know, you cullion,
    What it means to steal our sun!
    This thieving little sneak:
    He yanked the sun down from the sky
    And plopped down behind the bushes
    With his filled-up gut,
    And grunts as he drowses,
    Like a satisfied sow.
    All the [light/world] is gone,
    And he couldn’t give a damn!”
    Но бессовестный смеётся
    Так, что дерево трясётся:
    “Если только захочу,
    И луну я проглочу!”
    But that shameless Croc just laughs,
    So hard the tree gives out a shudder:
    “If it catches my fancy,
    I’ll swallow up the moon, too!”
    Не стерпел
    Медведь,
    Заревел
    Медведь,
    И на злого врага
    Налетел
    Медведь.
    Bear
    Could no longer stand it.
    Bear
    Let out a roar.
    Bear
    Pounced
    On his vile foe.
    Уж он мял его
    И ломал его:
    “Подавай сюда
    Наше солнышко!”
    He twisted him
    And broke him:
    “Give us back
    Our sun!”
    Испугался Крокодил,
    Завопил, заголосил,
    А из пасти
    Из зубастой
    Солнце вывалилось,
    В небо выкатилось!
    Побежало по кустам,
    По берёзовым листам.
    Crocodile took a fright.
    He yelped and whined,
    And from his jaws,
    His toothy maw,
    The sun fell out,
    And rolled up to the sky!
    It ran through the bushes,
    Through the birch-tree leaves.
    Здравствуй, солнце золотое!
    Здравствуй, небо голубое!
    Hello, golden sun!
    Hello, blue sky!
    Стали пташки щебетать,
    За букашками летать.
    The little birds began to chirp,
    And fly after insects.
    Стали зайки
    На лужайке
    Кувыркаться и скакать.
    The rabbits started
    tumbling and running
    through the meadow.
    И глядите: медвежата,
    Как весёлые котята,
    Прямо к дедушке мохнатому,
    Толстопятые, бегут:
    “Здравствуй, дедушка, мы тут!”
    And look there: the bear-cubs,
    Like gleeful kittens,
    Run to their furry grandfather
    With their big paws:
    “Hello, Grandfather, we’re here!”
    Рады зайчики и белочки,
    Рады мальчики и девочки,
    Обнимают и целуют косолапого:
    “Ну, спасибо тебе, дедушка, за солнышко!”
    The rabbits and the squirrels delight,
    The boys and girls delight,
    They hug and kiss that old club-footed Bear:
    “Thank you, grandfather, for the sun!”

  59. Just gave it a quick run-through, but it looks good. One error: “Two goats” should be “Two rams.” Also, “If you wind up on the street, You’ll lose your way and disappear” is originally “Whoever wound up on the street Lost their way and disappeared,” but I assume you changed it with your poetic license in hand.

  60. Dear lord!

  61. That’s fantastic, Marc. I can’t use it, but it’s still fantastic.

  62. I’m ambiguously glad to hear that. ;-) What exactly were you looking for in the translation? (I should have asked this first…)

  63. I can’t use it
    Might have been a good idea to say up front what you needed. What were you looking for?

  64. Back to Franglais: in one deparment the Academie has had some success in avoiding the introduction of new Franglais words, and that is computing. Because they got in early and actually invented words with French bases. Logiciel is usual for software, courriel for email (at least in Le Monde, though mail is also used.
    And there is a whole vocabulary of octets, megaoctects and so forth for bytes, megabytes, etc. And menus in French versions of software also seem to largel avoid Franglais.

  65. Maybe it had to rhyme. Never mind Marc, we’ll find a use for it!

  66. Maybe it had to rhyme. Never mind Marc, we’ll find a use for it!

  67. Any word on what “кинуть на кого” means? It really sounds like some kind of … the word escapes me. Set phrase?
    Re: Franglais. My theory has always been that unfettered use of English words in French is revenge for Law French.

  68. I believe “На кого вы меня, старого, кинули?” means “For whom have you left old me?”

  69. not for whom, but on the hands of who (na kogo), i believe
    kinuli is from pokinuli (abandoned, deserted)
    great translation, thanks, M

  70. I’m also curious as to who/what the crocodile and sun stand for in the poem. Capitalism? The bear is I’m assuming obviously Russia. Being 1927, I want to read this as some very early anti-capitalist allegory, but I suspect that might be too Cold-War. Lenin was two years gone, and Stalin was … ah-ha! Trotsky? That’s who he would’ve been most worried about, at that point. Right? Trotsky was forced into exile the next year. That way the sun would make sense as representing communist ideals, being fought over by the crocodile and the bear. Because what else could the sun represent that capitalism and communism *both* want?
    Forehead-slap. The world! Aka “свет” produced by the sun. Does that make sense?
    On the other hand, why would someone pen a children’s poem with such an intimately political theme? Perhaps the crocodile represents all counterrevolutionary forces arrayed against the Soviet government, whether external (capitalism) or internal (Trotskyists).
    Or maybe it’s just a children’s poem with no à-clef component. Ж)

  71. Or maybe it’s just a children’s poem with no à-clef component.
    Surely you know that such a thing is impossible, Comrade Marc.

  72. not for whom, but on the hands of who (na kogo)
    Same thing, sort of, but in this context we talk of leaving someone for (to be with) someone else: “She left her husband for a trapeze artist.”

  73. i thought, “na kogo vi menya, starogo, kinuli” means not exchanging one for another, but with whom he will be left (nobody around), no?
    na kogo vi menya “promenyali”, then it would be for whom you left me, but i don’t know, maybe it means the same thing

  74. I didn’t expect that someone would just translate it on the spot. Excerpts of the poem is used in a cartoon that I probably wanted to have translated.
    I feel in this context they have to rhyme, and I’m not 100% sure the excerpts aren’t altered.

  75. I mean, that I probably want to have translated.

  76. Trond Engen says:

    On the other hand, why would someone pen a children’s poem with such an intimately political theme?
    In 1941, a year into the German occupation of Norway, Frithjof Sælen published Snorre Sel, a children’s book about a baby seal who won’t listen to his mother’s warnings against the killer whale and the polar bear. He is saved by the friendly walrus. It was forbidden after a month for its political content. (I had the book as a child in the seventies and I loved it, not knowing anything about the geopolitical allegory until a history class some ten years later.)

  77. I see. I couldn’t make it rhyme if my life depended on it, but maybe you could make a stab at rhyming it yourself, working with what’s there already. I stuck pretty close to the original, so it can be used as a basis for rephrasing.

  78. Excerpts of the poem is used in a cartoon that I probably want to have translated.
    Which excerpts? And what is the cartoon?

  79. That’s just total propaganda, Trond. Seals eat penguins!
    Norwegians do not eat penguins.

  80. Seals eat penguins? Maybe at the South Pole. No polar bears down there, though.

  81. I was always rather intrigued by the fact that French managed to come up with its own vocabulary for computers, and Paul’s comment is interesting in that light. It’s perhaps a sad commentary on the modern influence of French on other Romance languages that ordinateur made it into Spanish (as ordenador) but not into Italian, Portuguese, or Romanian, and logiciels doesn’t appear to have made it anywhere at all.

  82. There are Norwegians in Antarctica, for the climate. I bet they eat penguins, probably fermented penguins.

  83. the other day i watched a youtube clip with the flying penguins, didn’t want to go to wikipedia to check whether they can fly b/c always thought they just walk or dive and swim, but flying penguins were so beautiful, the animation looked like real

  84. “Ordenador”? Is this a Spain vs. the rest of the Spanish-speaking world thing?

  85. marie-lucie says:

    (back to the beginning of this thread, if I can make it short)
    La fange in French is not only a literal word for mud; it is also a figurative word for mire, filth, vileness, corruption, degradation, all that is foul and loathsome. In classical oratorical and poetic diction, it is a “high” way of describing something “low.”
    The word is not quite a synonym for mud, since mud can be quite clean, depending where it comes from. La fange is filthy mud, like the mud of unpaved streets on which horses and dogs are not only walking but dropping urine and excrements, among other garbage which ends up fouling the mud. It is true the the word itself is rather literary, but its reference is to something disgusting and without redeeming value.

  86. “Ordenador”? Is this a Spain vs. the rest of the Spanish-speaking world thing?
    I didn’t say it was universal in the Spanish-speaking world. But it’s apparently a Spanish word, which is better than ordinateur is doing anywhere else. I was, of course, nonplussed to find that Spanish Wikipedia said Una computadora (del inglés computer, y éste del latín computare -calcular-), también denominada ordenador o computador, which led me to the same question as marc’s: how widespread is ordenador? And if it’s not the primary term in Spanish, exactly where is it used?

  87. Googling in Norwegian datamaskin gets 413,000 hits vs 990,000 for “computer”.

  88. Googling in Norwegian datamaskin gets 413,000 hits vs 990,000 for “computer”.

  89. Ordenador is the normal word in Spain, though not elsewhere.
    As far as I can see, a big contributor to the lack of popularity of ordinateur and its analogues in the other Romance languages is that the French came up with the word quite late, well after the need had been filled elsewhere.

  90. My Mexican and South American students say computador. But the mouse is a ratón.

  91. I’ve always said and heard computadora, but that’s mainly among Mexicans and other Latin Americans living in the US, so there might be some influence from English.

  92. marie-lucie says:

    My Chilean roommate said ‘computadora’.

  93. There must be a lot of puta jokes.

  94. So perhaps you ought to tell people to call their sewer pipes “Sir Robert McAlpines”
    “‘uckers have taken to smoking the alocacoc plant, which goes by a number of nick names, most popularly Robert Samuel Joseph Alfred Kaffiraza, Esq.. Robert Samuel Joseph Alfred Kaffiraza, Esq. has a number of unpleasant effects, mostly involving loss of proper judgement, and ‘uckers have taken to handing out free samples to any officials which try to stop them, causing the officials to forget exactly what it was they were supposed to be doing and suddenly become very interested in precisely how they should contain their hair. ” –Ghyll Encyclopedia, s.v. “Great Awakening”

  95. My Mexican landlady and her friend, who is teaching her how to email on their new computer, say “computadora”.

  96. Well, well, what a coincidence. Last week I was looking for a way to tell AJP about this article I read on Modern Architecture’s Dark Side, but of course I was having problems accessing the Internet thanks to the Chinese government. Now I discover this thread that includes discussions with AJP on architecture has been reopened, so how could I pass up on this god-given opportunity?
    I guess the article has nothing new in it for AJP, who has generally been there done that, but for me it did shine a light into a few corners.

  97. Thank you, Robe. I ought to get the NYreview, but I don’t and would have missed this. I didn’t know Martin Filler was one of their regulars. This book looks very interesting, I’ll have to get it. Jean-Louis Cohen assembled and wrote Paris From The Air, a book of old aerial photographs that I like a lot. Studiolum has shown some pictures of the art deco in Bucharest, a city that pre-war apparently had gangs of urban goats; I’d like to go there.

  98. marie-lucie says:

    I see that I came to this thread late, probably because I was away from home during the holidays, and I don’t remember reading the Russian poem (or rather translation).
    I am intrigued by the poem as a take on the ancient theme of the theft of the sun, which is very common in the mythology of Northern people on both sides of the Pacific Ocean (Siberia, Alaska, Northern Canada). Usually some personage (such as the Lord of the Sky) is keeping the sun hidden in a pouch or box (perhaps after stealing it himself), and the trickster (usually Raven) manages to steal the container, opens it and therefore gives mankind the gift of light. (Prometheus stealing fire for the benefit of mankind seems to be a version of this myth).
    Here Crocodile has stolen the sun, creating chaos among the animals (mostly), and Bear comes to the rescue. Perhaps the poet intended some political comment, but he must also have drawn on a much older mythological foundation preserved as a children’s tale.

  99. M-L, Chukovsky has a lot more to say about the Crocodiles. His earlier Crocodile cycle has a sentimental and wordily foreigner Crocodile who sometimes, when treated without respect, would swallow an offending dog or cop. He’s deported from Petrograd, but returns with an animal army to liberate the Zoo animals there. The panicked humans flee, but a little boy with a toy saber confronts the Crocodile, and the humans end up striking peace with the animals. Guns and swords, horns and claws are now banned forever.
    Like so many of Chukovsky’s poems, the early Crocodile has wonderful ambiguity, where scary or disgusting characters turn out to be actually appealing and nice … and then, perhaps, ugly again.
    The theme of a Feared Enemy making everyone shake with paralyzing fear, but eminently defeatable, is common in his fairy tale poems. Most famously, the Cockroach demands a sacrifice of the little ones, and promises to eat everyone’s little cubs and pups for dinner, until an unsuspecting Sparrow swallows him whole. Or when a Spider invades the Housefly’s samovar party, all the guests hide away while the Spider drinks the hostess’s blood – but a tiny Mosquito wanders by, slays the Spider, and marries the Housefly. Wow, that sounds depressing in prose :) no wonder my neighbors blacklisted Chukovsky under a category of “violence” LOL. These are extremely fun, lively poems. The fear strikes midway through, true, but then the joyful relief comes real fast :)
    Anyway the mythological inspiration of Stolen Sun is sure to exist, but there isn’t a word on actual symbolism. The Bear has a little tinge of traditional Russian folk ways, of course, and the Crocodile is something foreign / novel, but that’s about all one can surmise. Little hares and little squirrels have been rhymed with boys and girls, respectively, just about everywhere (of course this symbolism sounds very weird for an American ear, where rabbits stand for Playboy and squirrels for dumpster-diving). A wonderful poem, really. I like the fighting advice of the Mother Hare the most :)

  100. an American ear, where rabbits stand for Playboy
    Wow, kids, that puts a whole new slant on the Easter Bunny!

  101. Not to mention Bre’r Rabbit.

  102. And Bugs Bunny the sex star :) But OTOH the Americans wouldn’t put white caps with bunny ears on all of their preschooler boys at every matinee the way the Russian do, would they?

  103. Americans wouldn’t put white caps with bunny ears on all of their preschooler boys
    Maybe, but I don’t know how much that has to do with Playboy. I haven’t done any kind of study of this kind of thing, but in my experience the cultural aspects of what is suitable for young children seems to vary widely.

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