Friday, August 28, 2009

~ gained in the translation?

I just reread Erich Maria Remarque’s great novel ‘Im Westen nichts Neues’

the vigilant observer will catch the anachronistic and east-for-west image, but, you get the idea...

couple of thoughts—I can never read it without being moved—

but I consider how many individuals hate this book because they were made to read it in school.

another thought is, though the title translates as ‘in the west, nothing new’—
I find the English paraphrase ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ to be much more evocative.
the very best example of ‘gained in the translation’ has to be Marc Blitzstein’s rewriting of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Die Moritat von Mackie Messer’ into the American hit ‘Mack the Knife’...

among classics of WW1 literature, Remarque’s novel is first fiddle of the quartet that includes Ernest Hemmingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms,’ e.e. cummings’s ‘The Enormous Room,’ and John Dos Passos’s ‘Three Soldiers.’

the imagery and content guaranteed this work its pride of place among the very first books that the Nazis burned when they took power in 1933.

and along with this reading comes the occasional cynical thought—what do you do, if your first novel is one of the monuments of Western literature, and then you’ve got to live forty years longer...? certainly EMR produced a couple other fine novels, and many decent ones during the composition of which it must have become clear to him that he was neither Thomas Mann nor Herman Hesse, but this début was rather an impossible act to follow ~

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

off the top of my little pointed head ~

in an email exchange with a good friend:

the most difficult task that desire must perform is betimes to submit itself to the discipline of patience.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

~ You've had Pig ~ !

So here is an excellent example of my occasional failure to pay attention.

I took this photo of myself some sixteen months ago, in the Hauptbahnhof in Düsseldorf. I was waiting to board the Super Chief to Berlin, and was taken with my reflection in the windowglass of a train which came in on the track before mine was due.

...caught up in this auto-erotic reverie, I neglected to notice that my train for Berlin had snuck in to the station on the track behind me, until I heard the last call announcement over the loudspeaker. Whereupon I lept aboard.

and as I collected myself pulling out of the station, I had stuffed the Motorola Razor used to take the pic in my pocket, had my twosuiter and my shopping bag—

but my shoulderbag was nowhere to be seen.

I had left it on the platform. Swore. German or English? don't remember. Yes I do. "Fuck!"

Took stock quickly, acted immediately—

got off the Super Chief at Düsseldorf International Airport, five minutes down the track.

changed platforms, got on the Regionalbahn headed back into Düsseldorf.

didn't even bother to revisit my previous platform, just swept down stairs in a flurry—

marched up to Lost and Found

asked for a black Tumi shoulder bag.

gratefully received same from the attendant on duty, who said

"Sie haben Schwein gehabt!!" (you've had pig!)

which means, yabastid you been lucky this time...

cost me 2€ for a windowseat reservation on the subsequent train...

good Viertel of Künstler Riesling, as the clouds and the landscape rollled by.