Friday, April 1, 2011

From My Literary Translation

The following is an excerpt from my literary translation. I'm worried that the female protagonist (Klara) is turning out quite unsympathetic, which was definitely not the way she was conceived by the author. It would be great if people could take a look and tell me how they feel about this character based on the following excerpt. Please disregard the horrible punctuation. Somebody will take care of that for me because I'm useless with English punctuation.

Klara was quite sociable but while she was socializing with people and allowing them to socialize with her, she was unwittingly creating a transparent and at the same time impenetrable bubble that surrounded her and separated her from others. She wasn’t doing it on purpose. Rather, her perennially terrified admirers did it for her. It was their own fault, of course, because Klara never asked them to fear her comments and think that she was making fun of people who made fools of themselves. She wasn’t laughing at them (like she cared enough for that) but simply because she felt like laughing.

To give an example, Marik Steinberg, one of the top students in the entire city of Kharkov who was slated to receive a golden medal for his outstanding grades, fell in love with Klara to the point of stuttering. Of course, it is quite possible that he always stuttered, who knows? Finally, he decided to inform Klara of his feelings that were evident not only to her but to everybody else within  a hundred mile radius. She burst out in a bout of compassionate (yes, compassionate, why can’t anybody understand that?) laughter so that her blush turned from pale-pink to aggressively red. In a similarly compassionate tone that suggested she only wanted the best for Marik, she responded, “Marik, have you ever seen yourself in the mirror?”

“Sure I have,” Marik responded. His face was covered with huge beads of sweat that looked like boils.

Klara stopped laughing, looked at him seriously, and concluded, “In that case, your actions are incomprehensible.”

She had nothing else to say, nor did she want to.


Pagan Topologist said...

Seems mysterious. Is she saying his appearance is so terrible that no woman of her status will have him?

I suppose it is good; it makes me want to keep reading.

Clarissa said...

She's just trying to say that he's not attractive.

Mysterious is good, I'll take that. :-)

el said...

Wait, is it translation from Russian? Could you give the book's and author's names, please? She doesn't sound very nice, but does seem interesting.

Clarissa said...

It's a novel titled Reflection that you can find inside this book:

I am working on a literary translation of it into English right now. I blogged about it recently:

The novel is heavily postmodern and translating it is beyond difficult.

Anonymous said...

She seems awful but its an interesting sort. I don't find her sympathetic as of yet, but I am sure she gets better once we know what her issue is.

Clarissa said...

Cool! This is very useful feedback people.

Anonymous said...

If you are trying to make her sympathetic, or at least not unsympathetic, the sentence that bothers me is, "It was their own fault, of course, because Klara never asked them to fear her comments and think that she was making fun of people who made fools of themselves."
That sentence may bother me just because of my my own hangups about the word "fault," but I think part of it has to do with what comes later. She expects the suitor to read her mind that she would never be with someone so ugly, but she doesn't think she should be expected to read his mind that he would find her comment unnecessarily cruel. It seems like a double standard.

I agree with the previous commenter who wrote, "She seems awful but its an interesting sort."