Two small points:As I began reading a string of adjectives sprang to my mind, such as: stark, gritty, unsparing, sharp and biting -- as the cold itself, evocative, soulful, thought provoking, hard-hitting.
Nicely put!I guess the word that describes it the best is masterly, though that does not convey much, and to think of it this is only a translation. I know the story has a deep historical significance to it, but it becomes only one of the many themes dealt within the story. And then too it just fades into the background, which is simultaneously dominated by the expert use of language, the very memorable characters, and the million philosophical ideas thrown around casually. I'm amazed at the sheer number of themes the story contains and at the ease with which the author has traversed them. This man certainly had his marbles together!
Maybe the way they were translated was similar.
Perhaps this is a topic for a whole new thread!I've often thought it would be OK if I read Russian. It's my belief that translations always lose something
I have read it over 20 years ago and still feel that same relief you just described.Two small points:
'Cold': everything in this book is cold. The cold is the prison. Ivan Denisovich is a cold character with very little obvious emotion. What emotion is there is clearly kept under wraps. Those small bonds of friendship that are detailed in the story are also, similarly, cold and almost evoid of human emotion and personal warmth. This is a book where humanity seems to have been left behind ... but at the same time screams in protest.
Detail: the sheer amount of simple detail strongly suggests that this book could only have been composed by someone who experienced it. Solzhenitsyn, IMO, weighs you down under an oppressive amount of small imagery (the boots, the bed, the inter-personal details, the spoon ...) that you become almost as imprisoned as Ivan Denisovich. I was almost relieved to get to the closing (poignant) sentences.
Yes. People don't understand that translation is not a matter of just speaking two languages fluently. And for translation of literature one must be a writer, first, then know both languages in a way better manner than just "fluently" - that means really feel them, know the culture, understand what is applicable and what isn't, and how it should be rephrased in order to convey the initial meaning.Translators are rather underrated in the field of literature since translations can make or break a story. To take a second look at the piece in question I clicked on the links you provided but on not being able to find the story in either links I searched it online myself. One translation that I came across made the story look very mediocre, I could not believe I was reading the same work.
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