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HenHanna <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vladimir Nabokov Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 3 Oct 2020 08:58:36 -0700
text/plain (136 lines)
On 9/30/20, Ljuba Tarvi <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> In my doctoral thesis “Comparative Translation Assessment: Quantifying
> Quality” (Helsinki, 2004), I compared 19 full English translations of Eugene
> Onegin, fourteen that kept the poetic form and five prosaic, Nabokov’s
> included. The goal was to see how much of Pushkin has been preserved as
> regards the content and the form, the method was a manual version of what
> computer linguists do, the Token Equivalence Method, the material - 35
> stanzas, i.e., 10% of the text.
> The results of the English version that preserved the poetic form (joint
> plane: verbal and formal) are as follows: Falen 90%, Johnston 89%, Elton
> 87%, Briggs (based on Elton) 87%, Arndt 85%, Deutsch 83%, Hofstadter 80%,
> Sharer 68%, Spalding 64%, Radin 61%, Kozlov 61%, Emeet 50%, Simmons 46%,
> Kayden 45%.
> As is seen, Hofstadter’s translation is on the borderline between those who
> have more or less successfully tried to be faithful to Pushkin and those who
> have miserably failed.
> The form-deficient translations: Nabokov 98%, Ledger 90%, Cahill 89%, Clarke
> 88%, Clough 61%. Even Nabokov, with his goal of preserving as much Pushkin
> as possible, lost 2% - language barriers do exist.

Many of us   knew  that  VN's  trans.   would be the BEST one.

           it's exciting to know that it was shown  Numerically !

            ( "Best"  at least  in the sense of  "faithful" )

        we (poor readers) hate to think of the translators
            being capriciously  choosing, omitting, summarizing,
                  paraphrasing,  changing,  white-washing, censoring, ...


Another reviewer  (in a passage quoted below)
spoke of
                 > Hofstadter's nemesis Vladimir Nabokov.

It's rather curious  how and why  Hofstadter
came to view VN as his "rival" or "nemesis" or whatever.

I can't really imagine how a person could regard
VN as a "rival" --- i suppose a famous novelist
or poet could think that... but Hofstadter  has
never been known  for literature, poetry, criticism, ...


VN fans are familiar with the Nabokov-Wilson
      dispute over translation.

I wonder if there's been other big
      disputes (etc.)  over translation.


[ from a Book Review ]

 Douglas Hofstadter ...  is a relatively new but immensely
enthusiastic admirer of Pushkin, and
he has produced, whatever else, a version of Evgenii Onegin which is distinct
from its predecessors.    In his garrulous Translator's Preface, Professor
Hofstadter not only gives a blow-by-blow account of how he learned (some)
Russian for the purpose of popularizing Pushkin's novel in verse (many
readers may choose to skip this very leisurely exercise in autobiography), but
also makes comparisons with other translations (into English) and offers a
critique of his own work vis-A-vis those of Oliver Elton (revised by A. D. P.
Briggs), Walter Arndt, Charles Johnston, James Falen, and
Hofstadter's nemesis Vladimir Nabokov.

This he does mainly on the basis of Chapter 4, Stanza 20 where even
the much admired Falen, whose translation had inspired
this new enterprise, is below his best or, as his admirer puts it, 'to
tell the truth,
a rather run-of-the-mill effort for him' (p. xxix).

The present reviewer gives the same fourteen lines as an illustration of the
Hofstadter style, rather than choosing an exceptionally felicitous or, indeed,
inept passage (the standard is uneven, perhaps not surprisingly, as the
translation was produced at the rate of one stanza a day):


       Hallo, hulloo, my gentle reader!
       And how're your kinfolk, old and young?
       Pray let me tell you, as your leader,
       Some scuttlebutt about our tongue.
       What's 'kin'? It's relatively subtle,
       But you'll tune in if I but scuttle:
       Our kith and kin we're meant to love;
       We dish out kisses, tokens of
       Our high esteem; we pay a visit
       Each Christmas -it's a Russian rut
       Or else send notes in greeting, but...
       It isn't out of fondness, is it?
       It's all so they'll forget forthwith
       Us kin -- and so let's toast our kith!
                                                          (pp. xxxi)

-------    So the reviewer found
         (at least one)  "exceptionally felicitous" passage
                   by Hofstadter  !!!

         I think i'll write him (the Prof. reviewer) and ask him
                       ... when i can get around to it.

HH     ( preferred pronouns:     he,   HenHanna,   HH )

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