Back to Work

I haven’t been completely idle in the year since my last post, but I’m not going to try to summarize my progress. I did read one novel from start to finish (Géza Gárdonyi’s Abel and Esther), which is an achievement I’m a little proud of. My plan for November is to try to do a little bit of translation each day and see how much I can get done in a month. I was going to work on another Gárdonyi novel, Prisoners of God, but switched on a whim to another novel on my short-list, Margit Kaffka’s 1913 feminist novel The Years of Maria. I also started a few days early, and I plan to post a bit every day or two about what I’ve worked on.

So far I’ve done just the first page. A quick sample:

A far-off and feeble light—distant stars and the light of distant streetlamps—revealed, in a pallid stripe on a yellow repp duvet, the gable of Klára’s drawn-up knees. An uncertain grassy scent was perceptible from the boarding school garden, and the park beyond; one or two drops from the wash basin’s copper tap fell with a small resounding noise. “How many times has it been like this, exactly like this—this minute, this mood!” wondered Józsa, and with wide-open eyes she stared wonderingly into the darkness. She was seized by a genuinely naïve sentimentality; she was compelled to speak a few sentences.

If you’re curious what machine translation comes up with, here’s Google Translate’s version:

It is very remote and poor light – far from the world of stars and far from streetlights – révlett pale yellow stripe duvet reps – the pinnacle Klara knees tucked up. Uncertain fűillatok clearly felt the boarding garden and beyond, from the grove; mosdólavór the sonorous sounds rézcsapjából-keeping fell down a drop of water. “How many times was so, even so – this minute, this is the atmosphere” – Józsa thought, eyes wide open and staring into the darkness. He honestly felt a naive sentimentality; maxims had to say.

I can’t see I’m wholly satisfied by my version. For instance, looking at it just now, I think I’d change “pallid stripe” to “pale stripe”, I’d figure out exactly what kind of fabric “repp” is and look for a more familiar substitute, and I’d see if I can rephrase “the gable of Klára’s drawn-up knees” and “An uncertain grassy scent was perceptible” less clumsily. I’m also not entirely sure I’ve translated “révlett” correctly as “revealed”. But my goal for the present is quantity over quality, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, and rather than spending the time groping towards perfect grace, I’ll simply take notes on words and phrases that I’m unhappy with.

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