Page 73 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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TARNOR / ON TRANSLATING HEBREW
65
volved bu t do not compare with the ex trao rd inary lengths to
which they go in the G erman original.
Let us consider the open ing Hebrew sentence. T ransla ted lit­
erally, it amounts to the following: “Mokry-Kut was a shtetl
neither large no r small bu t average among shtetls, hemmed in by
river and forest and fields and villages.” T he translator has de ­
voted two sentences to one o f the original. Th is alone would not
be bothersome were it no t fo r the fact tha t the inconsistancy o f
translating
ayarah
as town in the first sentence and as “shtetl” in
the second is disconcerting.
In the second sentence in the original, Chmielnitski reaps a
hand fu l (of death); he h ad n ’t simply “in his time passed this way.”
And Gonte, in his wake, had also plucked his hand fu l (of death)
from it (the shtetl). T h e word “Haidamaks” adds little to the
translation. T h e read e r who searches
Webster’s International
•will
search in vain; he will not find the word there. Mr. Average
Intelligent Reader is doubtless unfam iliar with the term and the
history o f East-European Jewry. Couldn’t substitution o f the
word “Cossacks” have been a simpler solution? T he book, in need
o f a glossary, was short-changed by its publishers.
AMICHAI’S NOVEL
For a change o f pace, we tu rn to something more recent, from
the post-World War Two Period. T he selection is again arbitrary,
from Amichai’s opening lines on the first page o f his novel:
T h e even ing breeze sud-
nna m4tr)S nnajff p^nn ITT
d en ly p u sh e d th e w indow
-s m n s n n n7n
^
o p e n a n d t h e a r o m a o f
m asa nnne nxr ,*wvn .did
eucalyptus in bloom filled the
TO1n
7P?l T30 ’3
room . T h e euca lyp tu s was
.mTDJn
very late blossoming in this
hot summ er.7
Where Amichai has the aroma o f eucalyptus
the room,
the translator has it
fill
the room. T he re is a difference. I f Amichai
had wanted the aroma to fill the room, he would have used the
verb Zuf as in Deut. 11:4 — ” . . . He made the water o f the Red
Sea to
overflow
them . . . ” To overflow o r to flood would be fine
use of the verb Zuf but, alas, Amichai chose no t to use it. Was the
translator trying to improve on the original?
7 Yehuda Amichai,
Not o f this Time, Not of this Place,
trans. S. Katz (N.Y.: 1968).