NABOKV-L post 0023957, Thu, 18 Apr 2013 20:21:30 -0700

Re: Lolita ... sin, soul & 'gird up the loins of your mind'?
Dear Jansy,

Interesting how beautiful it is in other, especially Latin, languages. Actually
richer sounding than in French, surprisingly. Thanks for sharing this with us. I
had grown weary of hearing it in English. Any other translations? Czech perhaps?
or Polish? Russian, anyone? Italiano - it must be translated into all of these,
oder? Lolita, Feuer meines Lebens, etsy...


p.s. 'loins' is in the bible isn't it? to gird one's loins ... found this on the
web: In general, gird [meaning to bind with cloth] is used chiefly in
figurative ways. Gird one's loins is one such example, and the phrase's currency
stems from its frequent use in the Bible. The King James Version (the phrase is
found in other translations as well) has, among a number of other uses, "Gird up
thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way" (2 Kings iv.29);
"Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou
me" (Job xviii.3); and, for an obviously figurative example, "Wherefore gird up
the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to
be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter i.13).

From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
Sent: Thu, April 18, 2013 6:12:14 PM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Lolita ... my sin, my soul (translation)

Alfred Appel Jr, noted that "Lolita is the last book one would offer as
"autobiographical," but even in its totally created form it connects with the
deepest reaches of Nabokov's soul. Like the poet Fyodor in The Gift, Nabokov
could say that while he keeps everything "on the very brink of parody. . . there
must be on the other hand an abyss of seriousness, and I must make my way along
this narrow ridge between my own truth and a caricature of it." Lolita and "the
deepest reaches of Nabokov's soul"?

I was carried over to Lolita's opening lines and wondering how to translate "my
sin, my soul" into Portuguese ("loins" is also rather complicated to render
correctly*). Margarida Vale de Gato may have already found her
interpretations in Portugal's Portuguese - and is it possible for her to share
it with us?

In Brazilian Portuguese, Jorio Dauster wrote: "Lolita, luz de minha vida,
labareda em minha carne. Minha alma, minha lama." Breno Silveira (1959) chose:
"Lolita, luz de minha vida, fogo de meus lombos. Meu pecado, minha alma." Sergio
Flaksman (2011): "Lolita, luz da minha vida, fogo da minha carne. Minha alma,
meu pecado."

Jorio Dauster creates a clever wordplay alternating "my soul, my mud"
(difficult to render it back in English and the alternating letters in
For me, one of the translation problems lies in how the direct choice
sounds: "minha alma" (often set down as "minh'alma").
If I should happen take any liberties (VN forbid), I'd evade the issue
altogether and write something like "alma do meu pecado" ( soul of my sin ), a
rather dangerous choice but, in a sense, a rewarding one.

* - In French: "Lolita, lumière de ma vie, feu de mes reins. Mon péché, mon
âme" (Maurice Couturier)

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