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HenHanna <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vladimir Nabokov Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 28 Sep 2020 12:22:57 -0700
               Thank you, Prof. Boyd,  for commenting.

 i now realize that i can check if my message went out

 So exciting to know that [NABOKV-L]  is still so alive and well.

 I wish that Plummer did a lecture of Ulysses, instead of Kafka.


 (attached PDF file) --   I recently found this old Book Review :

Eugene Onegin. A Novel in Verse. A Novel Versification by Douglas
Hofstadter by Aleksandr Pushkin; Douglas Hofstadter
Review by: John Jamieson
New Zealand Slavonic Journal, (2000), pp. 257-261
Published by: Australia and New Zealand Slavists’ Association
Stable URL:

i have basically 2 questions / requests :

1.  The reviewer (Prof. Jamieson) states that there are many mistakes.
        ( i'm slightly embarrassed to ask, but...)  if there's a super-generous
                  person, pls briefly explain to me what these Errors are, and
                               also if there's even a more glaring error.

>>>   There are numerous errors of understanding
- for example the translation of "Moi bogyni! chto vy? gde vy?" (I, XIX) as
"Where nay who- are you, my goddesses?", or
"ne pravda 1'" (VIII, XLIII) as "or am I wrong?",    but this is not the
worst defect of the
translation. More important are the effects of Hofstadter's commitment
to retain the form and rhyme scheme of the original.

2. The reviewer (Prof. Jamieson) quotes 2 stanzas (see  below).

        For him, (he seems to indicate)
               they are SO BAD that just quoting them
                        is the harshest review there could be,
                                        but i don't find them THAT awful.

    For example,   i'm  finding that the corresponding stanza
                      (8.44)   tr. by Arndt   is more  difficult to understand.

  I spotted several (possible) bilingual puns in the second
                  quoted stanza  (8.44)  (mostly French-English).

   Do you see  any Russian-English   bilingual  puns  ?


>>>  But now consider Hofstadter's version:

Were it the case that I desired
My life to stake to hearth and home;
Were it the case that fate conspired
That wife I take and never roam;
If ever, even for one second,
Myself as family man I'd reckoned -
Then surely you'd have been the one;
A better bride than you there's none.
I'll add - and not in mad regaling,
But truly - you're what once I sought,
And were I sane I swear I ought
To choose you as my mate for sailing
Life's troubled seas in search of good;
I'd be content ... as best I could! [...]


    Back then - and if I'm wrong, correct me -
    In quiet woods, far from this crush,
    You found it easy to reject me;
    So what's behind this sudden rush?
    Perhaps this flashy hocus-pocus
    Of my new clique exudes panache?
    Or is it my cachet and cash?
    Or is it that the courtlings court us
    Because my man in war was maimed?
    Or is it that, should we be shamed
    And should the haughty court then snort us
    Into the gutter, you would smell
    The smell of roses, as we fell?             [. . .]

(The reviewer comments: )

                 Clearly there is far too much of Hofstadter's voice, and
much too little
of Tatiana's (or Pushkin's). Seemingly the translator cannot resist
word play, and
consistently makes bilingual puns which add nothing to the monolingual
reader's understanding of the work.


HH's comment:
                         [hocus-pocus]  seems so out-of-place that
 there must 've been an overriding reason why Hofstadter
   wanted to  use it   -- a bilingual pun ?

>   Of my new clique exudes panache?

 The meaning of [panache]  is wrong in this context, i believe.
 So again, i suspect there may be a bilingual pun   here.


one last question :

                     The reviewer (Prof. Jamieson)  suggests  that
Hofstadter's commitment to retain the form and rhyme scheme of the original
went too far  (or that it was foolhardy).

                     but did he    for (8.44)   make the stanza  13-lines
by making it shorter by a line  ... capriciously ?

Thank you !      HH

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