The Violet, Day 17

Ilonka. I can stay underwater two minutes without a breath. At least, that was my lung capacity at the Milenium. Please put it to the test. In a bathtub if you like. And my figure, if you please, please judge for yourself … She stands up. And in a leotard if you please, I am like an almond.

Composer. What, what’s like an almond like?

Ilonka. I do not know, if you please, but the editor of Pápá wrote this about me, or rather the poet, if you please.

Composer. I take that for granted. Well, you have a beautiful figure, very beautiful, and certainly to my taste. I don’t need a papal editor to see this. And your eyes are also pretty, large, expressive …

Director picking up the telephone. May I have 43-63, please? Hello? Is this the music composer? Good day. I just saw here, if you please among these papers, what was definitely not agreed to. I think that there has been enough of this already. You should have thrown out long ago … that part of the score. Are you pleased to understand? Well then, if you please. Hello, hello! My regards to your delightful wife. Puts down the telephone. To the composer. I beg your pardon.

Composer. Ahem. In a word, I summarize your request: you ask for employment in the women’s chorus, with the separate desire, that here and there you receive small individual parts.

Ilonka. Well, here and there a little princess, but not a long speech, or some tattered little countess, but only when five or six countesses enter together … a short line, such as, “Wow, but that party was a smash!” … or what I said when I played in the Lace Fairy, “Something reeks in Denmark” … or this reply I made, “That’s so, Your Excellency, nes-pa, Ambassador?” … Such trifles and if a person should develop, well My God, with time will come what comes.

The word which I translated yesterday as “the top of my lungs” appeared again today. This time my best guess was “lung capacity”. I had to consult my big Hungarian dictionary to figure out that “trikó” meant “leotard”. “nes-pa” is, of course, “n’est-ce pas” rendered phonetically. I could have legitimately translated “Valami bűzlik Dániába” as “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” with only a bit of license, but I had the feeling that the Hungarian phrase was meant to be from a crappy translation of Hamlet (especially since she attributes it to Csipketündér).

A bit later, when describing how modest her wants are, she saids “I do not eat bird”, which I’ve translated as “I don’t eat pheasant”. I can’t imagine, even then, that eating chicken was considered a great luxury. There’s also a typo, “kódus” for “kórus”, which could have really confused me if she weren’t obviously talking about the chorus.

There’s also a bit where she sings and holds the “á” in “Viráááááág” an absurdly long time. I’ve translated it as “Floweeeeeer”, but I’m not sure how well that actually works vocally. It might be best to substitute another song altogether, but since I don’t intend for this translation to be anything more than a learning exercise, I won’t actually spend any time worrying about things that would only matter if someone tried to stage it.

Four pages today, bringing me to fifty-two out of seventy-five, breaking the two-thirds mark. I feel optimistic about finishing by the end of the month.

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