Onegin in Slovak.

Slavomír/bulbul sent me a link to Ján Štrasser’s “My Onegin,” a very interesting account of how Štrasser came to translate Pushkin’s poem that includes a history of Slovak poetic translation and some examples comparing his version with others and with the Russian original (and “using Nabokov’s hyperfaithful translation to get as close to the original meaning as possible”). I love this kind of thing, and Slavomír says he enjoyed it too, but with the caveat that “some of the decisions are questionable:

For example in “Dosť života som na zábavy / s pôžitkom vedel premrhať”, the verb “vedel” indicates habituality, which doesn’t go at all with the finality of “dosť života” – there being only one life, one cannot habitualy do something with parts of it. Or when he translates “nahorkastý” as “embittered” and describes it as a colloquialism, he’s totally off: “embittered” (describing a person’s emotional state and attitude) is “zatrpknutý”. “Nahorkastý” is used exclusively in describing taste, whether literally or figuratively. And when he says “the personal pronoun is placed at the very end of the line. This is completely unnatural in Slovak”, he’s also wrong – “mučia ma, zjavujú sa mne” is perfectly cromulant Slovak. You would normally expect a clitic form there, but even the full form is acceptable, especially is there’s focus on the pronoun.

I leave it to Slovak speakers to judge these fine points, but as bulbul says, it’s well worth reading no matter how you feel about line-end pronouns.

Comments

  1. I always thought it was “cromulent”.

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