Thursday, January 11, 2007


A nice overview of Laszlo Krasz's (let's call him by this short name, okay?) yet untranslated novel Satantango:

Satan Tango is a novel about trust and its betrayal in many forms. The message is bleak: anyone who invests trust and hope in anything or anyone is almost bound to be disappointed and can only blame themselves for giving that trust and hope in the first place. There is certainly no redemption or transcendence to be had in this world.

via complete review

Reading the extracts it looks very similar to The Melancholy of Resistance both in style and in content. Direct speech in brackets, with cliches and flowery expressions, though not all of them, mercilessly strangled within quotes. I hope George Szirtes, whose translation of Melancholy was absolutely wonderful (in the sense that there was a consistent and idiosyncratic tone and voice in the prose, I of course can't say how faithful it was), is working on it next.

From the same HLO website, an earlier profile of Krasz.

You can of course watch the movie anytime. DVDs for both region 1 and 2 are available now (the later is one of the best DVDs of the year in this poll). It is not hard to understand why the world of movies is less respectful to borders of language and nationality. It is so easy to translate the subtitles of this movie for example. There are so few dialogues!

This is another nice article by Tim Wilkinson, who wrote the one on Satantango, on translating literary fiction:
Still, the question remains: Why does anyone translate? The above authors share the feature that, besides writing marvellously distinctive Hungarian prose, they offer fresh and highly individual approaches to how one thinks about the world – above all, about history and personal identity. That, surely, is the whole point of serious literature. By contrast, most UK writers are, in my view, terminally derivative and boring, and an infusion of new thinking would not come amiss there or in the US. The bottom line was well expressed by Ezra Pound in The ABC of Reading: "The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is CAPABLE of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension." Moreover, noted Pound, "If a nation's literature declines, the nation atrophies and decays."

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