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I read it, on the recommendation of a couple of you. It was amusing, though far too long. Perhaps Hasek, like Pascal and Twain, didn't have enough time to make it shorter.

I will recommend it to others, with reservations, not because it is humorous, but because of its "slice of life" quality.

I read the Parrott translation, and in his introduction he says:
quote:
Josef Svejk is inseparable from the manner in which he expresses himself. The language of Svejk is Svejk. Unfortunately it is impossible to reproduce this in English without running the risk of distorting his image, his period and his milieu.

Can someone explain what that means? Is he patting himself on the back for running the risk, but succeeding? Surely he isn't saying that his translation distorts Sveck's image.
 
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I suspect that this is an attempt to pre-empt some of the criticisms that were aimed at the earlier (1930) translation by Paul Selver being aimed at his version as well. The Wikipedia page on the book says of the Selver translation "... [the translation] appears to be done in a very stifling and unimaginative academic style that goes quite contrary to the language used by Hašek."

We've discussed elsewhere Parrott's use of rears for "latrines" which seems to be his attempt to get the "flavour" of the original Czech word. Translation is, of course, a very difficult art. For instance, Languagehat has a very interesting post about "Repetition in Tolstoy", which points out that Tolstoy's use of repetition was completely lost in translation.

Being British, Parrott is obviously a modest chap so couldn't say in so many words that his translation was better than Selver's. Wink

It was a long while ago that I read the book; it must have been after 1973, though, as I remember the title spelling the name of Švejk thus, not Schweik as in the earlier translation. I do remember it being overlong and found the best way to read it was to dip in and out, rather than to attempt to read every page. At that time I was also reading several early 19th-century books (Two years before the Mast, Last of the Mohicans, etc.), all of which, by modern standards, were full of padding, so perhaps I was used to that style. The fact that Hašek’s death prevented the appearance of the further two books that were apparently planned may be a good thing, although it may also have prevented badly-needed editing.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Valentine:
I read the Parrott translation, and in his introduction he says:
quote:
Josef Svejk is inseparable from the manner in which he expresses himself. The language of Svejk is Svejk. Unfortunately it is impossible to reproduce this in English without running the risk of distorting his image, his period and his milieu.

Can someone explain what that means? Is he patting himself on the back for running the risk, but succeeding? Surely he isn't saying that his translation distorts Sveck's image.


There are several levels of the "language problem". If you are interested, you'll find a tresure trove at www.SvejkCentral.com, especially under the tab "Analyses". It depends on how much time do you have to learn about what is going on.
 
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