The Violet, Day 16

Ilonka with excitement and sincerity. Yes if you please, because he was also a very brilliant man, if you please. All day he drank cheap brandy, he had already begun in the morning if you please, he didn’t go to rehearsal, for two days I struggled with him to put on a clean collar, if you please, then he spent my wages as well if you please, in winter he sold my fur coat to keep it from moths, he also drank up my chinchilla ruff, to keep it from moths, if you please, that too … he was excessively brilliant, but that’s not why I divorced him, and the quarrel was on account of a peacetime hussar captain, that’s what they told tales against me in the city, that the Eighteenth Hussars drank French champagne from my shoe, Sándor Moje if you please, but this was a slander, because it wasn’t true … because they did drink champagne from a shoe, the whole season they if you please never drank anything other than champagne, only, I beg your pardon, from a shoe, if you please, but not from my shoe belonging to me, if you please, I will swear an oath on it this very moment, that it should have been a major and not a poor captain, who I one time allowed to pour something into my shoe, and it wasn’t champagne precisely, if you please … yes, because of this we had our first quarrel, but this is not why we divorced, it was afterwards to be sure that we divorced.

Composer. Then why?

Ilonka. My fosterfather, the prompter, was angry at him because he troubled me so badly. And he punished him by not prompting him. And so he forgot his own lines, if you please, in Hamlet, and that’s why he insulted me, if you please, when he came home that evening, if you please, but then I suffered agonies in the top of my lungs. That’s when we divorced.

Three more pages. The English syntax above is ungrammatical in ways that don’t reflect the Hungarian, but that I thought conveyed the headlong rush of her words. The word today that gave me the most trouble was “dzsindzsula”, which has, as far as I can tell from a Google search, appeared twice in print in Hungarian and never in a dictionary. I could tell from context that it was some sort of fur, and I found a definition of “dzsindzsa”, a patch of impenetrable gorse on a military parade ground, in an online slang dictionary; but it was only when I took a nap that it suddenly struck me how much it sounded like “chinchilla”.

I also had a bit of trouble deciding how to translate “törköly”, which the Hungarian-English dictionary translates as “marc”, which an English dictionary explains is a brandy made from the leftover pressings of wine grapes. I considered marc, brandy, törköly brandy, and törköly pálinka, before settling on “cheap brandy”.

I’m not entirely sure if “tüdőcsúcsba szenvedtem” means “I felt pain in the upper tip of my lungs” or “I suffered an injury in the upper tip of my lungs”. Either way, it seems like an oddly specific location.

Three pages today and three pages yesterday brings me up to forty-eight pages. I’ll have to start doing four pages a day if I want to finish by the end of the month; otherwise, I won’t finish until April 2nd, which would still be pretty good, but has the disadvantage of not achieving an arbitrary goal based on calendrical happenstance.

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