Archives for posts with tag: translations

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In 2006, Haruki Murakami, author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, accomplished a long-standing goal — translating The Great Gatsby into Japanese. Murakami has discussed his reverence for the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel many times over the years — and has written a compelling afterword to his translation. Read Murakami’s moving love letter to Fitzgerald’s masterwork at scribd.com.

Here are some excerpts from Murakami’s heartfelt homage to The Great Gatsby

When someone asks, ‘Which three books have meant the most to you?’ I can answer without having to think: The Great GatsbyDostoevesky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. All three have been indispensable to me (both as a reader and as a writer); yet if I were forced to select only one, I would unhesitatingly choose Gatsby. Had it not been for Fitzgerald’s novel, I would not be writing the kind of literature I am today (indeed, it is possible that I would not be writing at all, although that is neither here nor there).

Whatever the case, you can sense the level of my infatuation with The Great Gatsby. It taught me so much and encouraged me so greatly in my own life. Through slender in size for a full-length work, it served as a standard and a fixed point, an axis around which I was able to organize the many coordinates that make up the world of the novel. I read Gatsby over and over, poking into every nook and cranny, until I had virtually memorized entire sections.

Remarks such as these are bound to perplex more than a few readers. ‘Look, Murakami,’ they’ll say, ‘I read the novel, and I don’t get it. Just why do you think it’s so great?’ My first impulse is to challenge them right back. ‘Hey, if The Great Gatsby isn’t great,’ I am tempted to say, inching closer, ‘then what the heck is?’…Gatsby is such a finely wrought novel – its scenes so fully realized, its evocations of sentiment so delicate, its language so layered – that, in the end, one has to study it line by line in English to appreciate its true value.”

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In 2006, Haruki Murakami – author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle — accomplished a long-standing goal by translating The Great Gatsby into Japanese. Murakami has discussed his reverence for the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel many times over the years — and has written a compelling afterword to his translation. Read Murakami’s moving love letter to Fitzgerald’s masterwork at scribd.com.

Here are some excerpts from Murakami’s heartfelt homage to The Great Gatsby

When someone asks, ‘Which three books have meant the most to you?’ I can answer without having to think: The Great GatsbyDostoevesky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. All three have been indispensable to me (both as a reader and as a writer); yet if I were forced to select only one, I would unhesitatingly choose Gatsby. Had it not been for Fitzgerald’s novel, I would not be writing the kind of literature I am today (indeed, it is possible that I would not be writing at all, although that is neither here nor there).

Whatever the case, you can sense the level of my infatuation with The Great Gatsby. It taught me so much and encouraged me so greatly in my own life. Through slender in size for a full-length work, it served as a standard and a fixed point, an axis around which I was able to organize the many coordinates that make up the world of the novel. I read Gatsby over and over, poking into every nook and cranny, until I had virtually memorized entire sections.

Remarks such as these are bound to perplex more than a few readers. ‘Look, Murakami,’ they’ll say, ‘I read the novel, and I don’t get it. Just why do you think it’s so great?’ My first impulse is to challenge them right back. ‘Hey, if The Great Gatsby isn’t great,’ I am tempted to say, inching closer, ‘then what the heck is?’…Gatsby is such a finely wrought novel – its scenes so fully realized, its evocations of sentiment so delicate, its language so layered – that, in the end, one has to study it line by line in English to appreciate its true value.”

Image CAPTION: “You’ll have to phrase it another way. They have no word for ‘fetch.'”

CREDIT: New Yorker cartoon by Drew Dernavich, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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IL GRANDE GATSBY
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Italian Translation 
by Fernanda Pivano

Opening lines in Italian:
Negli anni più vulnerabili della giovinezza, mio padre mi diede un consiglio che no mi

è mai più uscito di mente.

— Quando ti vien la voglia di criticare qualcuno — mi disse — ricordati che non tutti a questo mondo hanno avuto i vantaggi che hai avuto tu. 

In Inglese: 
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” 

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ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR, from Wikipedia

Fernanda Pivano (1917- 2009) was an Italian writer, journalist, translator and critic. Born in Genoa, as a teenager she moved with her family to Turin where she attended the Massimo D’Azeglio Lyceum. In 1941 she received a bachelor’s degree with a thesis on Herman Melville‘s Moby-Dick, which earned her a prize from the Center for American Studies in Rome. Her first translation, part of the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, was published in 1943, the same year she received a degree in philosophy.

In 1948, Pivano met Ernest Hemingway, resulting in an intense relationship of professional collaboration and friendship. The following year, Mondadori published her translation of A Farewell to Arms.

Throughout her professional life, Pivano contributed to the publication in Italy of significant American writers, from the icons of the Roaring Twenties, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and William Faulkner, through the writers of the 1960s (Allen GinsbergJack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti), to young writers of recent decades, including Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, David Foster Wallace, Chuck Palahniuk and Jonathan Safran Foer. Pivano was also interested in African-American culture and published many Italian versions of Richard Wright‘s books. In 1980 and again in 1984, Pivano interviewed Charles Bukowski at his home in San Pedro, California. These interviews became the basis for her book, Charles Bukowski, Laughing with the Gods first published in the USA by Sun Dog Press in 2000.

Photo: Ernest Hemingway and Fernanda Pivano, 1949.

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We continue our tribute to The Great Gatsby — our favorite novel and the reason we started this blog in June 2012 — with the cover from a Swedish edition of the book. In Sweden, F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel is called En Man Utan Skrupler, which translates as A Man Without Scruples.

I’m guessing that people in Sweden like to know something about a book before deciding to read it — and, I’ll admit, The Great Gatsby isn’t a descriptive title like, say, the Swedish blockbuster The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Set in 1922, The Great Gatsby tells the story of post-WWI America, the Roaring Twenties, when Prohibition —  a national ban on the sale, production, and transportation of alcohol, in effect from 1920-1933 — was the law of the land,  setting the stage for gangsters, bootleggers, and other nefarious types who were ready, willing, and able to give the people what they wanted.

While Jay Gatsby made his money through the illegal sale and transportation of alcohol, I’ve never thought of him as “a man without scruples.” That’s the point of the novel, isn’t it?  In the end, it was Daisy and Tom — the rich — who really had no scruples.

I did a search for quotes about “scruples” and found the following, which speaks to to Gatsby’s approximate time and place.

“The late 1920s were an age of islands, real and metaphorical. They were an age when Americans by thousands and tens of thousands were scheming to take the next boat for the South Seas or the West Indies, or better still for Paris, from which they could scatter to Majorca, Corsica, Capri or the isles of Greece.

Paris itself was a modern city that seemed islanded in the past, and there were island countries, like Mexico, where Americans could feel that they had escaped from everything that oppressed them in a business civilization.

Or without leaving home they could build themselves private islands of art or philosophy; or else – and this was a frequent solution – they could create social islands in the shadow of the skyscrapers, groups of close friends among whom they could live as unconstrainedly as in a Polynesian valley, live without moral scruples or modern conveniences, live in the pure moment, live gaily on gin and love and two lamb chops broiled over a coal fire in the grate. That was part of the Greenwich Village idea, and soon it was being copied in Boston, San Francisco, everywhere.”

MALCOLM COWLEY, Exile’s Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s. 

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GATSBY LE MAGNIFIQUE (Opening lines, in French)

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Quand étais plus jeune, ce qui veut dire plus vulnérable, mon père me donna un conseil que je ne cesse de retourner dans mon esprit.

–Quand tu auras envie de critique quelqu’un, songe que tout le monde n’a pas joui des mêmes avantages que toi.

En Anglais: 

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” 

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I checked out Amazon.fr (Amazon’s French site) and found numerous editions of Gatsby Le Magnifique — and many are among the site’s best-selling titles. Say what you like about Baz Luhrmann‘s film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio, but the movie has  sparked a renewed interest in Fitzgerald’s novel among people around the world — and that is certainly magnifique.