Franz Kafka

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wunsch, Indianer zu werden, by Franz Kafka, The Wish To Be a Red Indian, English Translation, Desiderio di diventare un Indiano,Traduzione in Italiano

Andy Warhol, Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century, Franz Kafka, 1980

Wunsch, Indianer zu werden, F. Kafka, 1913 
Wenn man doch ein Indianer wäre, gleich bereit, und auf dem rennenden Pferde, schief in der Luft, immer wieder kurz erzitterte über dem zitternden Boden, bis man die Sporen ließ, denn es gab keine Sporen, bis man die Zügel wegwarf, denn es gab keine Zügel, und kaum das Land vor sich als glatt gemähte Heide sah, schon ohne Pferdehals und Pferdekopf.
English and Italian translation by Literary Joint follows, with a few notes on the text...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Emelyan Pugachev (Емелья́н Пугачёв): myth and representation in Pushkin's novel "The Captain's Daughter"

Emelyan Pugachev, engrave by  Гравюра Лаврентия Серякова, 1881
First published in 1836, The Captain's Daughter is a romanticized, historic account of Pugachev's Rebellion (1773-1774), under the reign of Catherine the Great, and one of the most highly recognized works in prose of Aleksandr Sergyevic Pushkin.

Set in the time of the  greatest peasant revolutionary unrest in imperial Russia, it narrates the story of Emelyan Pugachev, the false czar, who impersonates Peter the Third. As he claimed his right to the throne, and rallied a multitude of people (the Cossacks, the Tatars, the nomadic Bashkirs, the Buddhist Kalmyks, the Kalmyks, the Muslims Kazakhs),  mostly peasants, promising the serfs land of their own and freedom from their masters. This analysis points out the representation of the controversial figure of Emelyan Pugachev sketched by Pushkin. Notwithstanding  the Cossack leader's intriguing historical figure—embittered enemy of  the czarina, posing a dreadful threat to the empire, in a time where Russia was already at war with the Ottomane Empire—and his army and followers—that were indeed depicted as brutal, cruel thugs, blood-thirsty murderers, despicable thieves  and so forth—Pushkin paints a portrait that bounds to feed the myth of the revolutionary leader.

Let's read together, in our humble English translation,  a few key passages of the narration—keeping in mind Pushkin's own struggle with power and censorship:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Gabriele D'Annunzio, I Pastori, The Shepherds, English translation

English translation:
The Shepherds (from Alcyone, Sogni di Terre Lontane, 1903)
September, let's go. It is time to migrate.
Now in the land of Abruzzi my shepherds
leave the pens and take it to the sea:
they descend to the wild Adriatic
that is green like the pastures of the mountains.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, The Queen of Spades

"The Queen of Spades" (Пиковая дама; Pikovaya dama) - the story of the army officer, with a passion for gambling, who never gambles for he's "not in a position to risk the necessary in the hope of winning the superfluous" and become obsessed with...well you know the story line...- is a  marvelous work, with the merit of introducing in Russian literature elements of  gothic, romanticism, expressionism, noir, and psychology.
You read about the Countess Anna Fedotovna, the Queen of Spade, and the fleeting mind immediately goes to Dostoevsky, and "The Gambler"'s Antonida Vasilevna. As Hermann begs, threats and ultimately "kills",  one thinks of  "Crime and Punishment"'s  hero, the student Raskolnikov. Yet, what can possibly move Hermann's mind? Greed, despair, lack of humanity -certainly; perhaps also materialism, or atheism, or an early seed of nihilism that is yet to come? Indeed, Pushkin is the mother river, from which all the waters of all rivers originate. Then again, who or what is the queen of spade? Is it madness, despair or the mystery of existence? Is it the force of revenge, the wheel of destiny, the smite of conscience? Is it the bite of guilt, the inability to feel love or compassion, and to understand the living forces, the transcendent values, the sparking passions allowing to possibly overshadow, if not overcome,  the irremediable and grim karma of death?