Franz Kafka

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Seasonal Poetry: "October Ascent," a Poem

Autumn Landscape with Four Trees, Vincent Van Gogh, 1885, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands

As always on LiteraryJoint, let's bid a proper farewell to October, month of great beauty and inspiration...

October Ascent

No thing suits me best than October,
Month pensive and silent;
The evening's chill of winter whispers
How long past is the warm season.
Yet, the day is a swirl
Of red and yellow that inebriate
Like new wine.
Away from the cities, from their lights
Which are dying fires, I retreat.
I climb the steep of the hills, 
Crawling up some deserted track. In the ascent,  
I befriend the chirp of the industrious squirrel,
And the hawk, which soars highly and utters
Unearthly cries.

Only up there in the mist
—The voice of men forgotten,
The debris of the world obliterated—
In the lonely heart, I reunite with my kindred again,
As the gathering night blackens the earth,
And the cold, polished sky,
Discloses its crystal-like shine.

All rights reserved, © LiteraryJoint,  2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Seasonal Poetry: Ottobre (October), a Poem

Avenue of Poplars in Autumn, 1884, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

October is always a time of great inspiration at LiterayJoint. Check out all the other famous Poems (English language) dedicated to this special month.


Nulla mi si  addice come ottobre,
Mese pensoso e silente,
Quando la sua sera è percorsa
Da un brivido d’inverno,
Che ci sussurra come passata sia
La calda stagione.
Eppure, di giorno è un turbinio
di rosso e giallo che inebria
Come vino nuovo.
Me ne vo ove posso,
Alla prima occasione,  
Lontano dalle città,
Dalle loro luci che son fuochi morenti,
Salendo la china dei monti,
Inerpicandomi per un tratturo deserto.
Nell’ascesa, solo mi è amico
Lo squittìo dello scoiattolo che s’adopra,
E il falco che si leva alto e lancia
Grida sovrumane.
Solo lassù, dimenticata l’umana voce
E obliati i detriti del mondo,
Nel cuore, sento di nuovo vicine le mie genti,
Quando la nera notte,
Fredda, levigata e lucente,
Dischiude il suo chiarore di cristallo.

All rights reserved, © LiteraryJoint,  2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"The lightning", "Il lampo" by Giovanni Pascoli, English version with original text in Italian; Giovanni Pascoli's "Il lampo" from the collection "Myricae" (1891-1903)

Picture of Giovanni Pascoli as a teacher, 1882
The following translation of "Il lampo" (The lightning) by Giovanni Pascoli is from the book "The Poems of Giovanni Pascoli: Translated in English, with Original Italian Text," published by LiteraryJoint Press (2017). Also available as Amazon ebook (Free on Kindle Unlimited!) and  on Kobo.

The Lightning

And sky and earth showed what they were like:

the earth panting, livid, in a jolt;
the sky burdened, tragic, exhausted:
white white in the silent tumult
a house appeared disappeared in the blink of an eye;
like an eyeball, that, enlarged, horrified,
opened and closed itself, in the pitch-black night.

Il lampo

E cielo e terra si mostrò qual era:

la terra ansante, livida, in sussulto;
il cielo ingombro, tragico, disfatto:
bianca bianca nel tacito tumulto
una casa apparì sparì d’un tratto;
come un occhio, che, largo, esterrefatto,
s’aprì si chiuse, nella notte nera.

Giovanni Pascoli, from the collection "Myricae" (1891-1903)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dario Fo: monologue (Italian) at the commemoration of wife Franca Rame; Dario Fo plays for the first time an unpublished script by wife Franca Rame

Dario Fo: monologue at commemoration of wife Franca Rame; Dario Fo plays for the first time an unpublished script by wife Franca Rame.

Dario Fo with his wife Franca Rame and their son Jacopo

Friday, October 7, 2016

Nikolai Gogol's "Old-Fashioned Farmers" (Старосветские помещики), English Translation, Full text, "Old-Fashioned Farmers," by Nikolai Gogol

A portrait of Gogol by Fyodor Moller (1840)

I am very fond of the modest life of those isolated owners of distant villages, which are usually called “old-fashioned” in Little Russia [the Ukraine], and which, like ruinous and picturesque houses, are beautiful through their simplicity and complete contrast to a new, regular building, whose walls the rain has never yet washed, whose roof is not yet covered with mould, and whose porch, undeprived of its stucco, does not yet show its red bricks. I love sometimes to enter for a moment the sphere of this unusually isolated life, where no wish flies beyond the palings surrounding the little yard, beyond the hedge of the garden filled with apples and plums, beyond the izbás [cottages] of the village surrounding it, having on one side, shaded by willows, elder-bushes and pear-trees. The life of the modest owners is so quiet, so quiet, that you forget yourself for a moment, and think that the passions, wishes, and the uneasy offspring of the Evil One, which keep the world in an uproar, do not exist at all, and that you have only beheld them in some brilliant, dazzling vision.
I can see now the low-roofed little house, with its veranda of slender, blackened tree-trunks, surrounding it on all sides, so that, in case of a thunder or hail storm, the window-shutters could be shut without your getting wet; behind it, fragrant wild-cherry trees, whole rows of dwarf fruit-trees, overtopped by crimson cherries and a purple sea of plums, covered with a lead-colored bloom, luxuriant maples, under the shade of which rugs were spread for repose; in front of the house the spacious yard, with short, fresh grass, through which paths had been trodden from the store-houses to the kitchen, from the kitchen to the apartments of the family; a long-legged goose drinking water, with her young goslings, soft as down; the picket-fence hung with bunches of dried pears and apples, and rugs put out to air; a cart full of melons standing near the store-house; the oxen unyoked, and lying lazily beside it.
All this has for me an indescribable charm, perhaps because I no longer see it, and because anything from which we are separated is pleasing to us. However that may be, from the moment that my brichka [trap] drove up to the porch of this little house, my soul entered into a wonderfully pleasant and peaceful state: the horses trotted merrily up to the porch; the coachman climbed very quietly down from the seat, and filled his pipe, as though he had arrived at his own house; the very bark which the phlegmatic dogs set up was soothing to my ears.
But more than all else, the owners of this isolated nook—an old man and old woman—hastening anxiously out to meet me, pleased me. Their faces present themselves to me even now, sometimes, in the crowd and commotion, amid fashionable dress-suits; and then suddenly a half-dreaming state overpowers me, and the past flits before me. On their countenances are always depicted such goodness, such cheerfulness, and purity of heart, that you involuntarily renounce, if only for a brief space of time, all bold conceptions, and imperceptibly enter with all your feeling into this lowly bucolic life.
To this day I cannot forget two old people of the last century, who are, alas! no more; but my heart is still full of pity, and my feelings are strangely moved when I fancy myself driving up sometimes to their former dwelling, now deserted, and see the cluster of decaying cottages, the weedy pond, and where the little house used to stand, an overgrown pit, and nothing more. It is melancholy. But let us return to our story.
Afanasii Ivanovich Tovstogub, and his wife Pulcheria Ivanovna Tovstogubikha, according to the neighboring muzhiks’ [peasants’] way of putting it, were the old people whom I began to tell about. If I were a painter, and wished the represent Philemon and Baucis on canvas I could have found no better models than they. Afanasii Ivanovich was sixty years old, Pulcheria Ivanovna was fifty-five. Afanasii Ivanovich was tall, always wore a sheepskin jacket covered with camel’s hair, sat all doubled up, and was almost always smiling, whether he was telling a story or only listening. Pulcheria Ivanovna was rather serious, and hardly ever laughed; but her face and eyes expressed so much goodness, so much readiness to treat you to all the best they owned, that you would probably have found a smile too repellingly sweet for her kind face.
The delicate wrinkles were so agreeably disposed upon their countenances, that an artist would certainly have approplife, led by the old patriotic, simple-hearted, and, at the same time, wealthy families, which always offer a contrast to those baser Little Russians, who work up from tar-burners and pedlers, throng the courtrooms like grasshoppers, squeeze the last kopek from their fellow-countrymen, crowd Petersburg with scandal- mongers, finally acquire a capital, and triumphantly add an f to their surnames ending in o. No, they did not resemble those despicable and miserable creatures, but all ancient and native Little Russian families.
It was impossible to behold without sympathy their mutual affection. They never called each other thou, but always you—“You, Afanasii Ivanovich”; “You, Pulcheria Ivanovna.”
“Was it you who sold the chair, Afanasii Ivanovich?”
“No matter. Don’t you be angry, Pulcheria Ivanovna: it was I.”
They never had any children, so all their affection was concentrated upon themselves. At one time, in his youth, Afanasii Ivanovich served in the militia, and was afterwards brevet-major; but that was very long ago, and Afanasii Ivanovich hardly ever thought of it himself. Afanasii Ivanovich married at thirty, while he was still young and wore embroidered waist-coats. He even very cleverly abducted Pulcheria Ivanovna, whose parents did not wish to give her to him. But this, too he recollected very little about; at least, he never mentioned it.
All these long-past and unusual events had given place to a quiet and lonely life, to those dreamy yet harmonious fancies which you experience seated on a country balcony facing the garden, when the beautiful rain patters luxuriously on the leaves, flows the murmuring rivulets, inclining your limbs to repose, and meanwhile the rainbow creeps from behind the trees, and its arch shines dully with its seven hues in the sky; or when your calash rolls on, pushing its way among green bushes, and the quail calls, and the fragrant grass, with the ears of grain and field-flowers, creeps into the door of your carriage, pleasantly striking against your hands and face.
He always listened with a pleasant smile to his guests: sometimes he talked himself but generally he asked questions. He was not one of the old men who weary you with praises of the old times, and complaints of the new: on the contrary, as he put questions to you, he exhibited the greatest curiosity about, and sympathy with, the circumstances of your life, your success, or lack of success, in which kind old men usually are interested; although it closely resembles the curiosity of a child, who examines the seal on your fob while he is asking his questions. Then, it might be said that his face beamed with kindness.
The rooms of the little house in which our old people lived were small, low-studded, such as are generally to be seen with old-fashioned people. In each room stood a huge stove, which occupied nearly one- third of the space. These little rooms were frightfully warm, because both Afanasii Ivanovich and Pulcheria Ivanovna were fond of heat. All their fuel was stored in the vestibule, which was always filled nearly to the ceiling with straw, which is generally used in Little Russia in the place of wood. The crackling and blaze of burning straw render the ante-rooms extremely pleasant on winter evenings, when some lively youth, chilled with his pursuit of some brunette maid, rushes in, beating his hands together.
The walls of the rooms were adorned with pictures in narrow, old-fashioned frames. I am positive that their owners had long ago forgotten their subjects; and, if some of them had been carried off, they probably would not have noticed it. Two of them were large portraits in oil: one represented some bishop; the other, Peter III. From a narrow frame gazed the Duchess of La Vallière, spotted by flies. Around the windows and above the doors were a multitude of small pictures, which you grow accustomed to regard as spots on the wall, and which you never look at. The floor in nearly all the rooms was of clay, but smoothly plastered down, and more cleanly kept than any polished floor of wood in a wealthy house, languidly swept by a sleepy gentleman in livery. Pulcheria Ivanovna’s room was all furnished with chests and boxes, and little chests and little boxes. A multitude of little packages and bags, containing seeds—flower- seeds, vegetable-seeds, watermelon-seeds—hung on the walls. A great many balls of various colored woollens, scraps of old dresses, sewed together during half a century, were stuffed away in the riated them. It seemed as though you might read their whole life in them, the pure, peaceful corners, in the chests, and between the chests. Pulcheria Ivanovna was a famous housewife, and saved up every thing; though she sometimes did not know herself what use she could ever make of it.
But the most noticeable thing about the house was the singing doors. Just as soon as day arrived, the songs of the doors resounded throughout the house. I cannot say why they sang. Either the rusty hinges were the cause, or else the mechanic who made them concealed some secret in them; but it was worthy of note, that each door had its own particular voice: the door leading to the bedroom sang the thinnest of sopranos; the dining-room door growled a bass; but the one which led into the vestibule gave out a strange, quavering, yet groaning sound, so that, if you listened to it, you heard at last, quite clearly. “Batiushka [Little Father], I am freezing.” I know that this noise is very displeasing to many, but I am very fond of it; and if I chance to hear a door squeak here, I seem to see the country; the low-ceiled chamber, lighted by a candle in an old-fashioned candlestick; the supper on the table; May darkness; night peeping in from the garden through the open windows upon the table set with dishes; the nightingale, which floods the garden, house, and the distant river with her trills; the rustle and the murmuring of the boughs,… and, O God! what a long chain of reminiscences is woven!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

"Das Unglück des Junggesellen, Bachelor's Ill Luck," by Franz Kafka: "Bachelor's Ill Luck," English version. "Das Unglück des Junggesellen, Bachelor's Ill Luck" by Franz Kafka, translated in English, with Original Text in German

Plaque marking the birthplace of Franz Kafka in Prague, designed by Karel Hladík and Jan Kaplický, 1966

Bachelor's Ill Luck

It seems so dreadful to remain a bachelor, when one is old, striving to keep one's dignity while begging  for an invitation, whenever one wants to spend an evening with people; to be ill and for weeks, from the corner of the bed, to look the empty room; say goodbye always before the front door; never run up a stairway beside one's wife; to have in one's room only side doors that lead into uknown apartments; having to carry home by hand his supper; having to admire other people's children and not be allowed to repeat constantly: “I have none;” to conform in behavior and appearance to one or two bachelors remembered from youth's memories.
    It will be so, except that in reality, today and even later, one will stand, with his own body and a real head, thus also a forehead, to slap at.

From "The Tales of Franz Kafka: English Translation With Original Text In German," available as e-book on Amazon KindleiPhone, iPad, or iPod touchon NOOK Bookon Kobo, and as printed, traditional edition through Lulu.  

Das Unglück des Junggesellen

Es scheint so arg, Junggeselle zu bleiben, als alter Mann unter schwerer Wahrung der Würde um Aufnahme zu bitten, wenn man einen Abend mit Menschen verbringen will, krank zu sein und aus dem Winkel seines Bettes wochenlang das leere Zimmer anzusehn, immer vor dem Haustor Abschied zu nehmen, niemals neben seiner Frau sich die Treppe hinaufzudrängen, in seinem Zimmer nur Seitentüren zu haben, die in fremde Wohnungen führen, sein Nachtmahl in einer Hand nach Hause zu tragen, fremde Kinder anstaunen zu müssen und nicht immerfort wiederholen zu dürfen: "Ich habe keine", sich im Aussehn und Benehmen nach ein oder zwei Junggesellen der Jugenderinnerungen auszubilden.
So wird es sein, nur daß man auch in Wirklichkeit heute und später selbst dastehen wird, mit einem Körper und einem wirklichen Kopf, also auch einer Stirn, um mit der Hand an sie zu schlagen.