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RE: [Czechlist] Re: Reading in Prague / Alex Zucker

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  • Pilucha, Jiri
    By the way, an interesting series of essays on book reviewing of literary translations
    Message 1 of 13 , Nov 12, 2012
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      By the way, an interesting series of essays on book reviewing of literary translations

      http://wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/archives/category/on-reviewing-translations/

      http://translationista.blogspot.cz/2012/10/recruiting-for-reviewer-hall-of-fame.html






      From: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Czechlist@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of hgeige@...
      Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 3:11 PM
      To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Czechlist] Re: Reading in Prague / Alex Zucker



      Here is something that might interest you, I am going to listen to it as
      soon as I have a moment.

      _http://www.radio.cz/en/section/books/alex-zucker-the-challenge-of-making-tr
      anslations-visible_
      (http://www.radio.cz/en/section/books/alex-zucker-the-challenge-of-making-translations-visible)


      Hanka

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • vtalacko@ageng.pair.com
      v kraji mladoboleslavskem, za casu nepokoju, kdy kral usiloval o bezpecnost silnic, maje ukrutne potize se Slechtici, kteri si vedli doslova zlodejsky The
      Message 2 of 13 , Nov 12, 2012
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        v kraji mladoboleslavskem, za casu nepokoju, kdy kral usiloval o
        bezpecnost silnic, maje ukrutne potize se Slechtici, kteri si vedli
        doslova zlodejsky


        The roads are still pretty dangerous!

        Valerie

        On 12.11.2012 15:01, Pilucha, Jiri wrote:
        > It is of course mighty difficult to characterize Vancura's language.
        > And it's not trivial at all to note that it is indeed the unique
        > language that makes Vancura unique. By no means a tautology. It can
        > be a lot of things which make writers unique - imagination (just
        > think
        > of magic reailsm), psychologic insight into their characters, how
        > they
        > construct the contrapunct of voices, others are masters of the absurd
        > (you know whom I mean) - and yet others are most distinct for having
        > a
        > unique way with the language. Jachym Topol, for instance. Or closer
        > to Vancura: Jaroslav Durych. Oftentimes the language is so unique
        > that you cannot read the book through. You get excited about the
        > uniqueness of the language and you soon get exhausted; just cannot
        > sustain the excitement - and there's not much left. That's why
        > nobody
        > has ever finished Sestra by Topol. (I'm sure you'll say that you
        > have, but nobody else that I know of ever has). That's why nobody
        > reads Vancura. A big paradox at work here. I put it to Alex the
        > other day how strange it is to be translating a novel that nobody
        > reads in Czech in the frst place. Everybody has seen the iconic
        > movie.
        > Multiple times. Every Czech "intellectual" has seen the movie ten
        > times but hardly anybody has ever read the book.
        >
        > But it would seem futile to be looking for a comparable writer. In
        > what way comparable? Greater writers are by definition incomparable,
        > aren't they (save for their epigones).
        >
        > Jiri
        >
        > From: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Czechlist@yahoogroups.com] On
        > Behalf Of Melvyn
        > Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 12:31 PM
        > To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [Czechlist] Re: Reading in Prague / Alex Zucker
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Czechlist%40yahoogroups.com>,
        > "Liz" <spacils@...<mailto:spacils@...>> wrote:
        >> Reading & Discussion with Alex Zucker
        >> Friday, November 9, 2012
        >> 7:00pm until 10:00pm
        >> Anglo-American University Library, Letenska 1, Mala Strana
        >> As Zucker is going to read several versions of his translation of
        >> "Marketa Lazarova" opening pages, the reading will hopefully stir up a
        >> discussion about the craft of translation as such, with author sharing
        >> his experience and talking about the difficulties he has been facing.
        >
        > Many thanks to Liz for passing on this info. I found the time to get
        > down there and really enjoyed myself. I do like a good translation
        > analysis. Alex Zucker openly admitted to some confusion over how to
        > capture Vancura's "voice" in this opening passage of Marketa Lazarova
        > - he had a good half dozen alternative versions.
        >
        > Blazniviny se rozsevaji nazdarbuh. Poprejte teto príhode mista v
        > kraji mladoboleslavskem, za casu nepokoju, kdy kral usiloval o
        > bezpecnost silnic, maje ukrutne potize se Slechtici, kteri si vedli
        > doslova zlodejsky, a co je horsi, kteri prelevali krev malem se
        > chechtajice. Stali jste se ze sameho uvazovani o uslechtilosti a
        > spanilem mravu naseho naroda opravdu precitliveli, a kdyz pijete,
        > rozlevate ke skode kucharcine vodu po stole, ale chlapi, o nichz
        > pocinnam mluviti, byli zbujni a certovsti. Byla to chasa, jiz
        > nedovedu
        > prirovnati nez k hrebcum. Pramalo se starali o to, co vy povazujete
        > za
        > dulezite. Kdezpak hreben a mydlo! Vzdyt' nedbali ani na bozi
        > prikazani.
        > Praví se, ze bylo bezpocet podobnych randabasu, ale v teto povidce
        > nejde lec o rodinu, jejiz jmeno pripomína Vaclava zajiste nepravem.
        > To
        > byli vykutaleni slechtici! Nejstarsi za tohoto krvaveho casu byl
        > pokrten líbeznym jmenem, ale zapomnel je a nazyval se az do sve
        > ohavne
        > smrti Kozlik.
        >
        > A couple of quicky questions for Czech colleagues:
        >
        > How would you characterize this language? What is so unique about it?
        > We were trying in vain to think of a comparable anglophone writer.
        >
        > Do you enjoy this kind of work? What do you get out of it? :-) Did
        > you like the film?
        >
        > And for anybody who has any ideas:
        > How would you translate the opening line? Something nice and
        > memorable. Ideas that came up included:
        > Folly/foolery is sown/spreads/scatters/is scattered/is wind-scattered
        > without rhyme or reason/helter skelter/at random...
        >
        > BW
        >
        > M.
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
      • Melvyn
        ... Podle silnicni mapy celoevropskeho bezpecnostniho programu EuroRAP se na silnici I/16 vyskytuji tri z hlediska nehodovosti velmi rizikove useky. Prvni z
        Message 3 of 13 , Nov 13, 2012
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          --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, vtalacko@... wrote:
          >
          >> v kraji mladoboleslavskem, za casu nepokoju, kdy kral usiloval o
          >> bezpecnost silnic, maje ukrutne potize se Slechtici, kteri si vedli
          >> doslova zlodejsky
          >
          >
          > The roads are still pretty dangerous!


          Podle silnicni mapy celoevropskeho bezpecnostniho programu EuroRAP se na silnici I/16 vyskytuji tri z hlediska nehodovosti velmi rizikove useky. Prvni z nich se nachazi ve smeru z Trutnova na Robousy, druhy nebezpecny usek je mezi Mladou Boleslaví a Melnikem a obecne nejhorsi pak mezi obcemi Slany a Revnicov. Zde na zhruba dvacetikilometrovem useku predstavuji rizikovy faktor neprehledne horizonty, spatne oznacene krizovatky, mohutna stromoradi a tahle (taahlee) useky svadejici k rychle jizde.
          http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silnice_I/16

          Right, this is obviously what Vladislav had in mind. :-) Trying to get round Prague from Kladno via Melnik is rather erm krkolomny. As for the robber barons who have not got round to putting up some decent road signs (better things to invest their money in), clearly the less said, the better.

          BR

          M.
        • Melvyn
          Many thanks for your comments, Jiri, ... you cannot read the book through. You get excited about the uniqueness of the language and you soon get exhausted;
          Message 4 of 13 , Nov 13, 2012
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            Many thanks for your comments, Jiri,

            --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "Pilucha, Jiri" <jiri.pilucha@...> wrote:
            > Oftentimes the language is so unique that
            you cannot read the book through. You get excited about the uniqueness of the language and you soon get exhausted; just cannot sustain the excitement - and there's not much left. That's why nobody has ever finished Sestra by Topol. (I'm sure you'll say that you have, but nobody else that I know of ever has).

            Cross my heart I have never read Sestra by Topol, though quite a few people have recommended it to me. Better go back to them and make sure they have actually read it themselves then.

            >That's why nobody reads Vancura. A big paradox at work here.

            Too good to be read, eh? Or at least the language is too good to be read. Is that it? A bit like Proust perhaps? I hear his language is so rich that the French find it all a bit of an artificial confection and they don't usually actually "do" Proust in their school system. That's the kind of silly job the English were put on this earth for.

            So his language is too rich for consumption in large amounts? A bit at a time, eh?

            I was foolhardy enough to attempt the first hundred or so pages of his Pole orna a valecna (where I am currently stuck). I found his style archaic, flowery and somehow ironically remote. The author's voice comes in quite a lot to give an overview, "explaining" how the old values have been superseded by the new. This authorial omniscience may rub people up the wrong way a bit these days IMHO.

            Archaicka slova a knizni vyrazy spojuje s lidovou mluvou. Vetna stavba je zastarala, uziva slozita souveti, zduraznuje jimi dulezitost daneho okamziku. Tento jazyk dava dilum monumentalni raz. Dej je potlacovan, dulezite misto ma vypravec, ktery vyjadruje svuj nazor k deji, prerusuje vypraveni a oslovuje ctenare, hodnoti chovani postav. Casti pribehu pripomínaji filmove scenare. Opevuje zivot, zduraznuje prozitky, detailne vyjadruje naladu, barevnost pribehu, city.
            http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladislav_Van%C4%8Dura

            >I put it to Alex the other day how strange it is to be translating a novel that nobody reads in Czech in the frst place.

            And what did he say?

            I fear this may be the case with some of Topol's works too. I read Kloktat dehet together with a very nice translation by David Short (Gargling Tar - note to self, must send some more of the neat translations I noted down to Czechlist). Myself, I quite liked the novel premise in the first half of the book, there were some neat ideas to begin with, but then it just spiralled round and round in increasingly surrealistic scenes, like a computer game when you can't get to the next level and monsters break in from another program. Fine language, fine imagination, but overall groggy tedium. That was my impression anyway. And then I checked out the online reviews by obycejny Honza readers, i.e. not by professional lit critters, and I could not find a single one that praised the book overall. Everyone seemed very underwhelmed by it.

            I do like Topol's shorter works, mind. And I am a great fan of Alex Zucker's translation work. Just a couple of weeks back I noted something down from his translation of Topol's Vylet k nadrazni hale - neat inversions of clause order to avoid a jerky effect.

            A pak uz svitalo, videl jsem to z okna
            Then I looked out the window, it was already light.

            Knizky jsem si nes v pytliku, tasku jsem nemel.
            I didn't have a shoulder bag, so I carried the books in a sack.

            Pretty clever IMHO.

            BR

            M.
          • vtalacko@ageng.pair.com
            It s the robber barons overtaking in their black Mazdas that are dangerous!
            Message 5 of 13 , Nov 13, 2012
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              It's the robber barons overtaking in their black Mazdas that are
              dangerous!

              On 13.11.2012 21:39, Melvyn wrote:
              > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, vtalacko@... wrote:
              > >
              > >> v kraji mladoboleslavskem, za casu nepokoju, kdy kral usiloval o
              > >> bezpecnost silnic, maje ukrutne potize se Slechtici, kteri si
              > vedli
              > >> doslova zlodejsky
              > >
              > >
              > > The roads are still pretty dangerous!
              >
              > Podle silnicni mapy celoevropskeho bezpecnostniho programu EuroRAP
              > se na silnici I/16 vyskytuji tri z hlediska nehodovosti velmi
              > rizikove
              > useky. Prvni z nich se nachazi ve smeru z Trutnova na Robousy, druhy
              > nebezpecny usek je mezi Mladou Boleslaví a Melnikem a obecne nejhorsi
              > pak mezi obcemi Slany a Revnicov. Zde na zhruba dvacetikilometrovem
              > useku predstavuji rizikovy faktor neprehledne horizonty, spatne
              > oznacene krizovatky, mohutna stromoradi a tahle (taahlee) useky
              > svadejici k rychle jizde.
              > http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silnice_I/16 [1]
              >
              > Right, this is obviously what Vladislav had in mind. :-) Trying to
              > get round Prague from Kladno via Melnik is rather erm krkolomny. As
              > for the robber barons who have not got round to putting up some
              > decent
              > road signs (better things to invest their money in), clearly the less
              > said, the better.
              >
              > BR
              >
              > M.
              >
              >
              >
              > Links:
              > ------
              > [1] http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silnice_I/16
              > [2]
              >
              > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Czechlist/post;_ylc=X3oDMTJwYWpubTQ3BF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzMyODk2NARncnBzcElkAzE3MDUwNDM1ODgEbXNnSWQDNTAyMDIEc2VjA2Z0cgRzbGsDcnBseQRzdGltZQMxMzUyODM5MTQz?act=reply&messageNum=50202
              > [3]
              >
              > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Czechlist/post;_ylc=X3oDMTJkNWR1MXJqBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzMyODk2NARncnBzcElkAzE3MDUwNDM1ODgEc2VjA2Z0cgRzbGsDbnRwYwRzdGltZQMxMzUyODM5MTQz
              > [4]
              >
              > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Czechlist/message/50164;_ylc=X3oDMTM1M284Y2gxBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzMyODk2NARncnBzcElkAzE3MDUwNDM1ODgEbXNnSWQDNTAyMDIEc2VjA2Z0cgRzbGsDdnRwYwRzdGltZQMxMzUyODM5MTQzBHRwY0lkAzUwMTY0
              > [5]
              >
              > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Czechlist;_ylc=X3oDMTJkYjJzYTFtBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzMyODk2NARncnBzcElkAzE3MDUwNDM1ODgEc2VjA3Z0bARzbGsDdmdocARzdGltZQMxMzUyODM5MTQz
              > [6]
              >
              > http://groups.yahoo.com/;_ylc=X3oDMTJjdGo4Y3RsBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE0BGdycElkAzMyODk2NARncnBzcElkAzE3MDUwNDM1ODgEc2VjA2Z0cgRzbGsDZ2ZwBHN0aW1lAzEzNTI4MzkxNDM-
              > [7] http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            • Pilucha, Jiri
              Melvyn, First of all - and I hope it was obvious - I was in many ways exaggerating. Secondly, as I ve now realized, some of my points were hastily made and
              Message 6 of 13 , Nov 14, 2012
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                Melvyn,

                First of all - and I hope it was obvious - I was in many ways exaggerating. Secondly, as I've now realized, some of my points were hastily made and not very well thought out.

                Anyway, rather than systematically following up on your questions one by one I'll just throw in a few more comments, hopefully not entirely irrelevant to the points raised by yourself.

                I would say that one thing is indisputable. Artistic significance of Marketa Lazarova the movie (within the context of film art) is far greater than artistic significance of Marketa Lazarova the book (within the context of literature). Thus the fact that many people have seen the movie but not read the book is - in a way - "justified" (unlike in many other cases where the reason why people prefer the film version is that it is "easier" on them than the book version, i.e. due to intellectual laziness if you like; for instance - speaking of Proust - "Swann in Love" the movie is arguably more easily digestible than the book. Not the case with Marketa Lazarova.) In other words, you've seen Marketa Lazarova the movie - world-class masterpiece of creative and experimental film-making - which makes you open the book, and guess what, you don't find it that extraordinary; yes you do notice the uniqueness of Vancura's language (which does not surprise you, though, since you've read Rozmarne leto) and it's quite noteworthy, no question about that, but perhaps not enough to keep you captivated through to the end. Please note that these observations are subjective ones - but after all that's what you were interested in, personal opnions, right? (At best I can speak for a circle of people whose experience in exploring the art I could closely follow along with mine.) Myself, after seeing the movie I opened the book in order to compare certain scenes (images) in the movie with their verbal "prototype", but did not read the book from start to end. Yes, the language is unique and you take pure delight in enjoying it as such, but maybe you just take a taste of it ("a bit at a time" as you say) and don't overeat. And maybe I just talk nonsense. It's difficult to put your finger on things when discussing arts.

                "Too rich for consumption in large amounts" is perhaps more true of Topol than Vancura (if we stick to comparing these two.) Vancura seems to be lighter. "Ironically remote" is a great observation of yours. I would say: quasi-archaic whilst not hiding the "quasi". Artificially archaic whilst making it joyfully obvious that the artificialism is deliberate.) But if you really want something "too rich for consumption in large amounts" then I would recommend Hrubin's "lyrical prose" Zlata reneta (of the classics) or anything by Jan Balaban (of the newer ones). And one last recommendation: if you want a taste of another sort of "rich" language go back to Jaroslav Durych. His voice is extremely expressive bordering on linguistic extasy. You may try something short to start with, such as Masopust.

                Jiri




                From: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Czechlist@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Melvyn
                Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:48 PM
                To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [Czechlist] Re: Reading in Prague / Alex Zucker




                Many thanks for your comments, Jiri,

                --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Czechlist%40yahoogroups.com>, "Pilucha, Jiri" <jiri.pilucha@...<mailto:jiri.pilucha@...>> wrote:
                > Oftentimes the language is so unique that
                you cannot read the book through. You get excited about the uniqueness of the language and you soon get exhausted; just cannot sustain the excitement - and there's not much left. That's why nobody has ever finished Sestra by Topol. (I'm sure you'll say that you have, but nobody else that I know of ever has).

                Cross my heart I have never read Sestra by Topol, though quite a few people have recommended it to me. Better go back to them and make sure they have actually read it themselves then.

                >That's why nobody reads Vancura. A big paradox at work here.

                Too good to be read, eh? Or at least the language is too good to be read. Is that it? A bit like Proust perhaps? I hear his language is so rich that the French find it all a bit of an artificial confection and they don't usually actually "do" Proust in their school system. That's the kind of silly job the English were put on this earth for.

                So his language is too rich for consumption in large amounts? A bit at a time, eh?

                I was foolhardy enough to attempt the first hundred or so pages of his Pole orna a valecna (where I am currently stuck). I found his style archaic, flowery and somehow ironically remote. The author's voice comes in quite a lot to give an overview, "explaining" how the old values have been superseded by the new. This authorial omniscience may rub people up the wrong way a bit these days IMHO.

                Archaicka slova a knizni vyrazy spojuje s lidovou mluvou. Vetna stavba je zastarala, uziva slozita souveti, zduraznuje jimi dulezitost daneho okamziku. Tento jazyk dava dilum monumentalni raz. Dej je potlacovan, dulezite misto ma vypravec, ktery vyjadruje svuj nazor k deji, prerusuje vypraveni a oslovuje ctenare, hodnoti chovani postav. Casti pribehu pripom�naji filmove scenare. Opevuje zivot, zduraznuje prozitky, detailne vyjadruje naladu, barevnost pribehu, city.
                http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladislav_Van%C4%8Dura

                >I put it to Alex the other day how strange it is to be translating a novel that nobody reads in Czech in the frst place.

                And what did he say?

                I fear this may be the case with some of Topol's works too. I read Kloktat dehet together with a very nice translation by David Short (Gargling Tar - note to self, must send some more of the neat translations I noted down to Czechlist). Myself, I quite liked the novel premise in the first half of the book, there were some neat ideas to begin with, but then it just spiralled round and round in increasingly surrealistic scenes, like a computer game when you can't get to the next level and monsters break in from another program. Fine language, fine imagination, but overall groggy tedium. That was my impression anyway. And then I checked out the online reviews by obycejny Honza readers, i.e. not by professional lit critters, and I could not find a single one that praised the book overall. Everyone seemed very underwhelmed by it.

                I do like Topol's shorter works, mind. And I am a great fan of Alex Zucker's translation work. Just a couple of weeks back I noted something down from his translation of Topol's Vylet k nadrazni hale - neat inversions of clause order to avoid a jerky effect.

                A pak uz svitalo, videl jsem to z okna
                Then I looked out the window, it was already light.

                Knizky jsem si nes v pytliku, tasku jsem nemel.
                I didn't have a shoulder bag, so I carried the books in a sack.

                Pretty clever IMHO.

                BR

                M.



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • vtalacko@ageng.pair.com
                My subjective opinion: I ve read Konec starych casu, Rozmarne leto and Pekar Jan Marhoul (although a while ago now) but have never been attracted by Marketa
                Message 7 of 13 , Nov 15, 2012
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                  My subjective opinion:

                  I've read Konec starych casu, Rozmarne leto and Pekar Jan Marhoul
                  (although a while ago now) but have never been attracted by Marketa
                  Lazarova. The other three, however, I enjoyed a lot, in large part
                  because of the language, combined with the fact that they weren't too
                  long (and in the case of PJM, the story is compelling). It's the same
                  with Proust - the whole work may be very long, but the individual books
                  aren't, and I've found them pretty readable (although I'm only on no. 4,
                  I think - and that was a while ago, too!).

                  However, I'm almost incapable of reading a very long book in one
                  volume, even if the language isn't complex. I just look at it and think
                  there's no way I'm going to make it through that, even if it's supposed
                  to be a good book.

                  I'll admit to struggling with Henry James, too. Sometimes it's easier
                  to read language that is rich and unusual than language which is dense,
                  if you know what I mean.

                  I'm sounding here as if I read more than I actually do (it's terrible -
                  so much of my reading was done before the advent of the internet! And
                  most of my Czech reading was done in the 1990s when I was first over
                  here). But I did like Vancura, and found him easier to read than many
                  other writers. (Is Marketa Lazarova very different from the three I've
                  read? will go and have a look. I'd like to read POAV, too).

                  Valerie


                  On 14.11.2012 23:04, Pilucha, Jiri wrote:
                  > Melvyn,
                  >
                  > First of all - and I hope it was obvious - I was in many ways
                  > exaggerating. Secondly, as I've now realized, some of my points were
                  > hastily made and not very well thought out.
                  >
                  > Anyway, rather than systematically following up on your questions one
                  > by one I'll just throw in a few more comments, hopefully not entirely
                  > irrelevant to the points raised by yourself.
                  >
                  > I would say that one thing is indisputable. Artistic significance of
                  > Marketa Lazarova the movie (within the context of film art) is far
                  > greater than artistic significance of Marketa Lazarova the book
                  > (within the context of literature). Thus the fact that many people
                  > have seen the movie but not read the book is - in a way - "justified"
                  > (unlike in many other cases where the reason why people prefer the
                  > film version is that it is "easier" on them than the book version,
                  > i.e. due to intellectual laziness if you like; for instance -
                  > speaking
                  > of Proust - "Swann in Love" the movie is arguably more easily
                  > digestible than the book. Not the case with Marketa Lazarova.) In
                  > other words, you've seen Marketa Lazarova the movie - world-class
                  > masterpiece of creative and experimental film-making - which makes
                  > you
                  > open the book, and guess what, you don't find it that extraordinary;
                  > yes you do notice the uniqueness of Vancura's language (which does
                  > not
                  > surprise you, though, since you've read Rozmarne leto) and it's quite
                  > noteworthy, no question about that, but perhaps not enough to keep
                  > you
                  > captivated through to the end. Please note that these observations
                  > are subjective ones - but after all that's what you were interested
                  > in, personal opnions, right? (At best I can speak for a circle of
                  > people whose experience in exploring the art I could closely follow
                  > along with mine.) Myself, after seeing the movie I opened the book
                  > in
                  > order to compare certain scenes (images) in the movie with their
                  > verbal "prototype", but did not read the book from start to end.
                  > Yes,
                  > the language is unique and you take pure delight in enjoying it as
                  > such, but maybe you just take a taste of it ("a bit at a time" as you
                  > say) and don't overeat. And maybe I just talk nonsense. It's
                  > difficult to put your finger on things when discussing arts.
                  >
                  > "Too rich for consumption in large amounts" is perhaps more true of
                  > Topol than Vancura (if we stick to comparing these two.) Vancura
                  > seems
                  > to be lighter. "Ironically remote" is a great observation of yours.
                  > I
                  > would say: quasi-archaic whilst not hiding the "quasi". Artificially
                  > archaic whilst making it joyfully obvious that the artificialism is
                  > deliberate.) But if you really want something "too rich for
                  > consumption in large amounts" then I would recommend Hrubin's
                  > "lyrical
                  > prose" Zlata reneta (of the classics) or anything by Jan Balaban (of
                  > the newer ones). And one last recommendation: if you want a taste of
                  > another sort of "rich" language go back to Jaroslav Durych. His
                  > voice
                  > is extremely expressive bordering on linguistic extasy. You may try
                  > something short to start with, such as Masopust.
                  >
                  > Jiri
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > From: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Czechlist@yahoogroups.com] On
                  > Behalf Of Melvyn
                  > Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:48 PM
                  > To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: [Czechlist] Re: Reading in Prague / Alex Zucker
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Many thanks for your comments, Jiri,
                  >
                  > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Czechlist%40yahoogroups.com>,
                  > "Pilucha, Jiri" <jiri.pilucha@...<mailto:jiri.pilucha@...>> wrote:
                  >> Oftentimes the language is so unique that
                  > you cannot read the book through. You get excited about the
                  > uniqueness of the language and you soon get exhausted; just cannot
                  > sustain the excitement - and there's not much left. That's why nobody
                  > has ever finished Sestra by Topol. (I'm sure you'll say that you
                  > have,
                  > but nobody else that I know of ever has).
                  >
                  > Cross my heart I have never read Sestra by Topol, though quite a few
                  > people have recommended it to me. Better go back to them and make
                  > sure
                  > they have actually read it themselves then.
                  >
                  >>That's why nobody reads Vancura. A big paradox at work here.
                  >
                  > Too good to be read, eh? Or at least the language is too good to be
                  > read. Is that it? A bit like Proust perhaps? I hear his language is
                  > so
                  > rich that the French find it all a bit of an artificial confection
                  > and
                  > they don't usually actually "do" Proust in their school system.
                  > That's
                  > the kind of silly job the English were put on this earth for.
                  >
                  > So his language is too rich for consumption in large amounts? A bit
                  > at a time, eh?
                  >
                  > I was foolhardy enough to attempt the first hundred or so pages of
                  > his Pole orna a valecna (where I am currently stuck). I found his
                  > style archaic, flowery and somehow ironically remote. The author's
                  > voice comes in quite a lot to give an overview, "explaining" how the
                  > old values have been superseded by the new. This authorial
                  > omniscience
                  > may rub people up the wrong way a bit these days IMHO.
                  >
                  > Archaicka slova a knizni vyrazy spojuje s lidovou mluvou. Vetna
                  > stavba je zastarala, uziva slozita souveti, zduraznuje jimi
                  > dulezitost
                  > daneho okamziku. Tento jazyk dava dilum monumentalni raz. Dej je
                  > potlacovan, dulezite misto ma vypravec, ktery vyjadruje svuj nazor k
                  > deji, prerusuje vypraveni a oslovuje ctenare, hodnoti chovani postav.
                  > Casti pribehu pripomínaji filmove scenare. Opevuje zivot, zduraznuje
                  > prozitky, detailne vyjadruje naladu, barevnost pribehu, city.
                  > http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladislav_Van%C4%8Dura
                  >
                  >>I put it to Alex the other day how strange it is to be translating a
                  >> novel that nobody reads in Czech in the frst place.
                  >
                  > And what did he say?
                  >
                  > I fear this may be the case with some of Topol's works too. I read
                  > Kloktat dehet together with a very nice translation by David Short
                  > (Gargling Tar - note to self, must send some more of the neat
                  > translations I noted down to Czechlist). Myself, I quite liked the
                  > novel premise in the first half of the book, there were some neat
                  > ideas to begin with, but then it just spiralled round and round in
                  > increasingly surrealistic scenes, like a computer game when you can't
                  > get to the next level and monsters break in from another program.
                  > Fine
                  > language, fine imagination, but overall groggy tedium. That was my
                  > impression anyway. And then I checked out the online reviews by
                  > obycejny Honza readers, i.e. not by professional lit critters, and I
                  > could not find a single one that praised the book overall. Everyone
                  > seemed very underwhelmed by it.
                  >
                  > I do like Topol's shorter works, mind. And I am a great fan of Alex
                  > Zucker's translation work. Just a couple of weeks back I noted
                  > something down from his translation of Topol's Vylet k nadrazni hale
                  > -
                  > neat inversions of clause order to avoid a jerky effect.
                  >
                  > A pak uz svitalo, videl jsem to z okna
                  > Then I looked out the window, it was already light.
                  >
                  > Knizky jsem si nes v pytliku, tasku jsem nemel.
                  > I didn't have a shoulder bag, so I carried the books in a sack.
                  >
                  > Pretty clever IMHO.
                  >
                  > BR
                  >
                  > M.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > ------------------------------------
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • Melvyn
                  ... aren t, and I ve found them pretty readable (although I m only on no. 4, Crumbs, next you ll be telling us that you are past Harry Potter # 5. :-) I bet
                  Message 8 of 13 , Nov 18, 2012
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                    --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, vtalacko@... wrote:
                    > Proust - the whole work may be very long, but the individual books
                    aren't, and I've found them pretty readable (although I'm only on no. 4,

                    Crumbs, next you'll be telling us that you are past Harry Potter # 5. :-)

                    I bet you read them in French too. :-) I would be afraid of native speakers' blank stares if I tried to use vocabulary from Proust. I found this was the problem with reading too many fin de siecle Czech poets and First Republic novelists. When I show my vocabulary notebooks to Czech friends in their twenties they often burst out laughing. A huge linguistic generation gap seems to be opening up.

                    >However, I'm almost incapable of reading a very long book in one
                    volume, even if the language isn't complex. I just look at it and think there's no way I'm going to make it through that, even if it's supposed to be a good book.

                    Svejk started well, but then went round in circles IMHO, so I gave up somewhere north of Budejovice. Even staunch Catholic friends here seriously tell me off for my lax attitude over this. BTW a friend of mine once cycled from London to our village over two weeks - he said that whenever he entered a Czech village all the dogs started barking uncontrollably and he was reminded of Svejk's anabasis.

                    Same impression from Petra Hulova's Pamet moji babicce. Very compelling until half time. Maybe I should make more of an effort with Topol, but I approach his longer works with similar trepidation now. On the other hand Ajvaz keeps the innovative ideas coming. And he knows when to stop, which is just as important IMO as knowing how to start.

                    >I'm sounding here as if I read more than I actually do (it's terrible -
                    so much of my reading was done before the advent of the internet! And
                    most of my Czech reading was done in the 1990s when I was first over
                    here).

                    Funny that. I find I read more novels now thanks to the internet. Perhaps I should get out more. :-) But then I would use my Nokia 9300 reader.

                    What else did you get into?

                    >But I did like Vancura, and found him easier to read than many
                    other writers. (Is Marketa Lazarova very different from the three I've
                    read? will go and have a look. I'd like to read POAV, too).

                    I believe ML and POAV are much more complex. My previous comments referred mostly to the latter.

                    >Zeme, jez sotva pokryva porfyr, rulu a svor v koncinach stredni Vltavy, nehluboka ornice a spetka jilu na zapadnich svazich pahorkatiny nepojmenovane, dno vsednosti, podlaha bidy, daleko neni tak nicotna, aby z ni nevzesly lesy.
                    Vzejdou prave tak, jako rec, nez konecne zazni hlasem, vzchazi za dlouheho mlceni.

                    =:-O

                    M.
                  • Melvyn
                    ... would recommend Hrubin s lyrical prose Zlata reneta (of the classics) or anything by Jan Balaban (of the newer ones). And one last recommendation: if
                    Message 9 of 13 , Nov 19, 2012
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                      --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "Pilucha, Jiri" <jiri.pilucha@...> wrote:

                      >
                      would recommend Hrubin's "lyrical prose" Zlata reneta (of the classics) or anything by Jan Balaban (of the newer ones). And one last recommendation: if you want a taste of another sort of "rich" language go back to Jaroslav Durych. His voice is extremely expressive bordering on linguistic extasy. You may try something short to start with, such as Masopust.

                      Many thanks for the recommendations, Jiri. My Kladno Library online basket is now quite full. Now where is the Deliveries button? I'm sure they have a little van with a siren.

                      > Anyway, rather than systematically following up on your questions one by one I'll just throw in a few more comments, hopefully not entirely irrelevant to the points raised by yourself.

                      Well, that sounds very reasonable. :-) But does this mean we will never know what Alex answered? :_(

                      BR

                      M.
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