Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Seven Quick Takes

1. Amy Welborn has been posting photos of some of her collection of vintage holy cards. Several of these are in French, basic enough that I can read them fairly easily, through the magic of context, cognates, and two years of college-level language.

2. I would like to read more French again.

3. My senior directing project for Theater was a production of No Exit, for which I translated the script to avoid any copyright issues for which I had no funds. It was not the world's most literate translation -- I liked to stay close to the original to preserve the sense of flow of a foreign language -- but one thing I noticed quickly was that of the small number of translations I could find, none of them made use of Sartre's own phrasing, so essential in creating from the very first lines the ennui of Hell and the cyclical feel of the plot.
Garcin, il entre et regard autour de lui. -- Alors voila.
Le Garçon. -- Voila.
Garcin. -- C'est comme ça...
Le Garçon. -- C'est comme ça.
Stuart Gilbert's translation starts off:
Garcin [enters, accompanied by the Room-Valet, and glances around him]: Hm! So here we are?
Valet: Yes, Mr. Garcin.
Garcin: And this is what it looks like?
Valet: Yes.
You don't have to know French to see that Gilbert is padding here.

4. Can anyone recommend a good book on prayer? I'm finding that giving up Facebook for Lent has not been difficult at all -- the hard part is in putting my extra time to good use, and in organizing that time so that it's concentrated for prayer. Turns out I'm not very good at praying in a sustained way. I go through my day, murmuring little prayers to myself or turning my thoughts to God , but although I do it frequently, I don't maintain it. Even at night, I start saying a decade of the rosary in bed, and either fall asleep or wander off mentally before I finish. I need to practice, to develop some staying power, but right now I treat prayer like I treat exercise: I think often of the treadmill in the basement, and I ponder all the benefits that I would derive from getting on it, and I could write for hours about it -- the one thing I don't do is go down consistently and use it.

5. I've been sitting on this one because Enbrethiliel has been reading her way through the Little House books, but since she's finally reached By The Shores of Silver Lake, I can post this: scarlet fever did not make Mary Ingalls go blind.  A recent study in Pediatrics (behind a firewall) concludes that the most likely culprit was viral meningoencephalitis. According to Laura's letters, she describes Mary has having had a high fever and paralysis of one half of her face, but there was no evidence of brain damage that a bacterial infection would have been likely to inflict. Other experts dispute the meningoencephalitis diagnosis, but there is general agreement that the cause could not have been scarlet fever.

6. We're all agog here about the news that the Vestal Virgins may not have been wearing wigs after all. Janet Stephens, a Baltimore hair dresser, has deconstructed the hairstyle as presented on busts and in literature, and has managed to recreate the style on a model. Julia in particular is impressed, and has been trying to braid up her hair in the same way. History comes to life!

Melanie Bettinelli links to Janet Stephens's video demonstrating the Seni Crines, the hairstyle of the Vestals.

7. Here's a joke. Look, I laughed, okay?


mandamum said...

Apparently Laura herself knew it wasn't scarlet fever (according to letters, perhaps?) but used Scarlet Fever as a dread disease her readership would be familiar with. Interesting.

bearing said...

That kind of translation (the Sartre) makes me want to rip my hair out.

So the original author's idea of how the conversation should go wasn't good enough for you, eh?

There's something to be said for dynamic translation, and for finding an idiom in the target language. Indeed, "So here we are" isn't a bad equivalent for "Alors voilá," which is technically more like "so there it is" (a shortened form of "see it" really.) But putting the "we" in "so here we are" makes it a personal comment -- not an impersonal one -- and even more importantly, brings le garçon into it. Le garçon is not at all in the same situation as M. Garcin, so to put "here WE are" into Garcin's mouth is incredibly presumptuous!

I would have liked to have been in the situation where I "had" to translate No Exit. Sadly, my undergraduate experience did not offer me such opportunities. These days I must settle for translating trip reports from European ice-climbing bloggers.

Jenny said...

I was amused by the anecdote that prompted the research.

Prof: Today we are studying Scarlet Fever.

Student: That causes blindness, right?

Prof: Umm, no.

Foxfier said...

Mind wandering while praying the rosary-- try the Rosary Army's scripture rosary. They have scripture lines to break it up a little; I downloaded it for a long drive that usually drives me nuts, and it sure felt like the non-driving part of my brain was more engaged with the prayer.

Foxfier said...

Julia said...

Not a book on prayer, but an idea: change your posture. I'm not kidding. When I have trouble focusing for longer periods of time on prayer (you know, like more than the 30-second variety we moms learn when we have newborns!), I find that if I intentionally go kneel next to my bed it changes my focus. It's kind of the difference between doing work and *going to work*; crossing a threshhold in order to do something, specifically, makes a difference. It sets it apart somehow.

The other thing that helps me is to set aside individual days to pray for each child, and to keep notes. That allows for deeper focus, both on what I think they need and on listening to whatever wisdom God is able to pound into my befuddled brain.

Rosemary said...

Read The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander. It is changing my life. You can't go wrong. Her subject is not prayer but Mary, in a new way. Check it out!