Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Russia’s Dr. Seuss (2020)

A great piece HERE in the Paris Review on the Russian childrens' author Kornei Chukovsky (1882 - 1969) by the always entertaining Anthony Madrid.

Included is Madrid's attempt to render the beginning of Chukovsky's Telephone:
У меня зазвонил телефон.
—Кто говорит?
—От верблюда.
—Что вам надо?
—Для кого?
—Для сына моего.
—А много ли прислать?
—Да пудов этак пять.
Или шесть:
Больше ему не съесть,
Он у меня ещё маленький!

"Sigh. I’m going to close with my own attempt at the first three lines—an attempt that, for all its faults, has at least this authority: it was created on horseback, as it were. I just mean it was created without recourse to writing implements. I had been trying to solve the problem of those opening lines for years; I wanted the first line to be an anapestic trimeter, like it is in Russian. Suddenly the following bit came to me, alone in the Mazda on the way to Austin, Northbound 183, November 2019:

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the phone.
That thing will not leave me alone.
Obnoxious, annoying, irrelevant…
Brrrrng!!!—I pick up. It’s the elephant."