Monday, November 22, 2004

The international style

"Cornflower blue are women's eyes by the mighty wine. Boy are they ever. Recently he beat her black and blue, see? And then her brother said, Now that guy is in for a big blue surprise, and gave him a good beating. Once again he got off lightly, with a black-and-blue eye. That's fine. But now let's hope Annemarie will stop pulling blue wool over her eyes about him. Even she can't be that blue-eyed." -- Christa Wolf, Associations in Blue, trans Jan van Heurck.

That reads as if it was impossible to translate (ever had a black-and-blue eye?). Fair enough, it also reads as if it was very good in German. But Christa Wolf has donated it to Telling Tales, a charity story anthology with acknowledgments to publishers not only in Britain, the US and Germany, but in Italy, France, China, Russia, Taiwan, Brazil, Greece and Hungary -- and also a shout-out to "all other publishing houses who are in the process of following suit." Perhaps she's trying to teach mere English readers (or mere Magyar readers) a lesson.

[Telling Tales, edited by Nadine Gordimer (Bloomsbury, 2004). Collection of stories raising money for AIDS treatment in southern Africa. Could be considered a sort of literary Live Aid -- there's a sentence in the introduction beginning "Musisicians have given their talents..." -- if only the performances weren't old and good and the setlist wasn't so unbelievably impressive. Don't let sour me put you off.]

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