Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0022222, Sun, 4 Dec 2011 13:54:04 -0500

Nabokov had someone like him in mind ...


The Irish Times - Saturday, December 3, 2011
Bringing Gogol to the stage
Sir, – Roddy Doyle feels that Vladimir Nabokov had someone like him in mind when he wrote that “None but an Irishman should ever try tackling Gogol.” (Weekend Review, November 26th). I don’t think so.

Doyle’s sparky version of The Government Inspector has linguistic flair and creativity in spades, but is a million versts away from what Nabokov believed constituted a good translation.

“The person who desires to turn a literary masterpiece into another language has one duty to perform, and this is to reproduce with absolute exactitude the whole text, and nothing but the text. The term ‘literal translation’ is tautological since anything but that is not truly a translation but an imitation, an adaptation or a parody.” A literal translation of Gogol’s Government Inspector – reproducing the brilliance of Gogol’s Russian in another language while remaining faithful to the spirit of the original – is hard to do, but doable.

Roddy Doyle has basically written another play based on Gogol’s plot. – Yours, etc,


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Slavonic Studies,

Trinity College Dublin.

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