Friday, November 16, 2012

rome tales

I read Rome Tales because it looked like fun and seemed appropriate with my wife in Italy for two weeks. Actually, I think I bought this for my wife, but she didn't seem interested, so it sat around for a while and I pulled it out to read while she was gone.

In a nutshell: good idea, poor execution.

The stories were translated by Hugh Shankland, and the book was edited by Helen Constantine. My biggest problem was with the translation. Some things just don't translate well, that's a given. There are concepts and idioms in other languages that don't have a clear translation in English. I get that. Its my opinion however, that a translator job is to find a way to translate things that allow the reader to both understand the concept, and also (and here's where the problem is in my view) make sure to leave the bubble unbroken.

The 'bubble' I'm talking about is that bubble of believe, of inside-ness, that one experiences when reading a story. I want to believe that I'm reading an Italian story, even though I know my Italian isn't good enough to read it in the original. Just don't burst my bubble. You can't drop a English word-bomb like higgledy-piggledy, or whatever, into an Italian story and expect your readers to swallow without choking. sorry, I didn't actually take notes on these stupidisms

That said, some of the stories were interesting. I especially like the diary entries of Ennio Flaiano on Via Veneto (Fogli di Via Veneto), and he ghost story "The Beautiful Hand" (La bella mano) by Giorgio Vigolo.

Don't bother. Learn Italian. then teach me

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