Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russian Rhyme & Reason

You wouldn't expect an essay on the finer points of translating Russian poetry to give you your biggest laugh of the day. But, when it's written by Vladimir Nabokov...
The English rhyme [is] Echo's poor relation, a genteel pauper whose attempts to shine result merely in doggerel garishness. For if in Russian and French, the feminine rhyme is a glamorous lady friend, her English counterpart is either an old maid or a drunken hussy from Limerick.

(from Nabokov, "Problems of Translation: Onegin in English").


Tony said...

Surely Nabokov would never have put a comma after "French"?
And did he believe that there were drunken English hussies in Limerick?

Marissa said...

You ask, "This man Nabokov, does he
Know he's chosen the wrong kind of hussy?"
You feel you're deceived,
I shan't be so peeved:
This quote is so good, I'm not fussy.

Dr.J said...

May I modestly suggest (being a foreigner both to english and russian) that Limerick is a well known form of humour poetry?
The Oxford (or Cambridge) comma is a peculiarly over-correct way of enumeration (see Colin Dexter´s Inspector Morse novels)