Franz Kafka

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Kleider," by Franz Kafka: "Clothes," translated in English. "Kleider," by Franz Kafka, with Original Text in German




Franz Kafka in 1906.


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  Amazon and Lulu.

Clothes



Often when I see clothes with multiple pleats, ruffles, and ornaments that fit so smoothly a beautiful body,  I think that they will not stay like this for a long time, but will get creases that can not be ironed out, will collect so thick a dust in the ornament that it can not be brushed away, and that no one will want to look so unhappy and ridiculous, to wear every day the same precious dress, and undress in the evening.
But I see girls, who certainly are pretty and often show such lovely muscles and delicate bones and smooth skin and masses of thin hair, and yet appear every day in this one natural fancy dress, always propping the same face in the same palms and let it be reflected in the mirror.
Only at times,  in the evening when they come home late from a party, looking in the mirror, it appears to them as worn out, bloated, dusty, already seen by everyone, and no longer wearable again.






Kleider



Oft wenn ich Kleider mit vielfachen Falten, Rüschen und Behängen sehe, die über schönen Körper schön sich legen, dann denke ich, daß sie nicht lange so erhalten bleiben, sondern Falten bekommen, nicht mehr geradezuglätten, Staub bekommen, der, dick in der Verzierung, nicht mehr zu entfernen ist, und daß niemand so traurig und lächerlich sich wird machen wollen, täglich das gleiche kostbare Kleid früh anzulegen und abends auszuziehn.
Doch sehe ich Mädchen, die wohl schön sind und vielfach reizende Muskeln und Knöchelchen und gespannte Haut und Massen dünner Haare zeigen, und doch tagtäglich in diesem einen natürlichen Maskenanzug erscheinen, immer das gleiche Gesicht in die gleichen Handflächen legen und von ihrem Spiegel widerscheinen lassen.
Nur manchmal am Abend, wenn sie spät von einem Feste kommen, scheint es ihnen im Spiegel abgenützt, gedunsen, verstaubt, von allen schon gesehn und kaum mehr tragbar.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

"I limoni" (The Lemon Trees) by Eugenio Montale, translated in English. From the collection "Ossi di seppia” (Cuttlefish bones,) 1925

Cover of  "Montale's Essential: The Poems of Eugenio Montale in English," available on Kindle.


The Lemon Trees


Listen to me, the laureate poets
only wander among plants
with little known names: boxwood or acanthus.
As to me, I prefer the small streets that falter
into grassy ditches where in puddles
that are half dried boys might capture
a struggling eel:
the little path that winds down
along the slope, plunges through cane-tufts
and opens into the orchards, among the lemon trees.

Perhaps it is better if the jubilee of small birds
dies down, swallowed by the sky:
more clearly one can listen the murmur
of tender branches in the almost unmoving air,
and the senses of this odor
that cannot part from the earth
and like rain in the breast a restless sweetness descends.
Here of all worldly passions
as a miracle the war is hushed,
here even to us who are poor is granted our share of wealth
which is the fragrance of the lemon trees.

See, in these silences in which things
yield and almost betray
their ultimate secrets,
at times, one half expects
to discover an error in Nature,
the still point of reality, the missing link that holds not,
the thread to untangle that finally gets us
right at a truth of some kind.
Our glance fumbles all around,
the mind seeks, makes harmonies, falls apart
in the scent that spreads
at the time the day is most languishing.
These are the silences in which one sees
in every fading human shadow
some disturbed divinity.

Yet the illusion wanes, and in time we return
to our noisy cities where the blue shows
only in fragments, high up, among the towering shapes.
Then rain wears out the earth;
Tedious, winter burdens the roofs,
the daylight grows miser  -  the soul bitter.
Yet, one day through an accidentally open gate
among the trees of a courtyard
the yellow of lemons shows;
and the heart that was frozen thaws,
and into our breast pour
their songs
the golden trumpets of the sun. 


From "Montale's Essential: The Poems of Eugenio Montale in English"  
ebook available on Amazon and Kobo

 

I limoni


Ascoltami, i poeti laureati
si muovono soltanto fra le piante
dai nomi poco usati: bossi ligustri o acanti.
lo, per me, amo le strade che riescono agli erbosi
fossi dove in pozzanghere
mezzo seccate agguantano i ragazzi
qualche sparuta anguilla:
le viuzze che seguono i ciglioni,
discendono tra i ciuffi delle canne
e mettono negli orti, tra gli alberi dei limoni.

Meglio se le gazzarre degli uccelli
si spengono inghiottite dall'azzurro:
più chiaro si ascolta il susurro
dei rami amici nell'aria che quasi non si muove,
e i sensi di quest'odore
che non sa staccarsi da terra
e piove in petto una dolcezza inquieta.
Qui delle divertite passioni
per miracolo tace la guerra,
qui tocca anche a noi poveri la nostra parte di ricchezza
ed è l'odore dei limoni.

Vedi, in questi silenzi in cui le cose
s'abbandonano e sembrano vicine
a tradire il loro ultimo segreto,
talora ci si aspetta
di scoprire uno sbaglio di Natura,
il punto morto del mondo, l'anello che non tiene,
il filo da disbrogliare che finalmente ci metta
nel mezzo di una verità.
Lo sguardo fruga d'intorno,
la mente indaga accorda disunisce
nel profumo che dilaga
quando il giorno piú languisce.
Sono i silenzi in cui si vede
in ogni ombra umana che si allontana
qualche disturbata Divinità.

Ma l'illusione manca e ci riporta il tempo
nelle città rurnorose dove l'azzurro si mostra
soltanto a pezzi, in alto, tra le cimase.
La pioggia stanca la terra, di poi; s'affolta
il tedio dell'inverno sulle case,
la luce si fa avara - amara l'anima.
Quando un giorno da un malchiuso portone
tra gli alberi di una corte
ci si mostrano i gialli dei limoni;
e il gelo dei cuore si sfa,
e in petto ci scrosciano
le loro canzoni
le trombe d'oro della solarità.

From the collection "Ossi di seppia” (Cuttlefish bones,) 1925.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hot Off the Press: "Giuseppe Ungaretti, the Master of Hermeticism, Translated in English"

Cover of "Giuseppe Ungaretti, the Master of Hermeticism, Translated In English," LiteraryJoint Press, 2018.

The most comprehensive English translation of the work of Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888 – 1970,) the leading representative of the experimental literary movement called Hermeticism, or Hermetic poetry. This edition includes poems from all of his major collections: "Porto Sepolto (1916,) “L'allegria di naufragi” (1919,)"L'allegria" (1931,) “Sentimento del tempo” (1933,) and "Il dolore," (1947.)
Available as ebook as Amazon Kindle and Kobo.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

"Notte di neve" (Snowy Night) by Giovanni Pascoli. English translation, with original Italian text. "Notte di neve" (Snowy Night) from the collection “Myricae” (1891-1900)


Henry Asbury Rand's "Snow Covered Road," 1935, Pennsylvania.

The following translation of "Notte di neve" (Snowy Night) 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 also on Kobo.


Snowy night




Peace!  The bell cries out,
but far away, faintly. Over there

a marble cemetery
rises, upon it the shadow falls silent:
and fades into the black sky
a wide and fleeting light.
Peace! peace! peace! peace!
in the white obscurity.


        From the collection “Myricae” (1891-1900)





Notte di Neve




Pace! grida la campana,
ma lontana, fioca. Là

un marmoreo cimitero
sorge, su cui l'ombra tace:
e ne sfuma al cielo nero
un chiarore ampio e fugace.
Pace! pace! pace! pace!
nella bianca oscurità.


     From the collection "Myricae" (1891-1900)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"Das nächste Dorf," by Franz Kafka: "The Next Village," an English version. "Das nächste Dorf," by Franz Kafka, with Original Text in German, "The Next Village" translated in English



Franz Kafka, 5 years old (1888)

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  Amazon and Lulu.

The Next Village



My grandfather used to say: “Life is astonishingly short. Now, in my remembrance, it dwindles itself to such an extent, that for example, I can hardly comprehend how a young man can decide to ride to the next village without fearing that - notwithstanding unfortunate accidents - even the time of an ordinary, happy life is for such a ride far from sufficient.”



Das nächste Dorf



Mein Großvater pflegte zu sagen: »Das Leben ist erstaunlich kurz. Jetzt in Erinnerung drängt es sich mir so zusammen, daß ich zum Beispiel kaum begreife, wie ein junger Mensch sich entschließen kann, ins nächste Dorf zu reiten, ohne zu fürchten, daß - von unglücklichen Zufällen ganz abgesehen - schon die Zeit des gewöhnlichen, glücklich ablaufenden Lebens für einen solchen Ritt bei weitem nicht hinreicht.«


Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Tales of Chekhov: "A problem," from "The Party and Other Stories," by Anton Chekhov. Translated in English.

Birth house of Anton Chekhov in Taganrog, Russia

 
A PROBLEM

THE strictest measures were taken that the Uskovs' family secret
might not leak out and become generally known. Half of the servants
were sent off to the theatre or the circus; the other half were
sitting in the kitchen and not allowed to leave it. Orders were
given that no one was to be admitted. The wife of the Colonel, her
sister, and the governess, though they had been initiated into the
secret, kept up a pretence of knowing nothing; they sat in the
dining-room and did not show themselves in the drawing-room or the
hall.

Sasha Uskov, the young man of twenty-five who was the cause of all
the commotion, had arrived some time before, and by the advice of
kind-hearted Ivan Markovitch, his uncle, who was taking his part,
he sat meekly in the hall by the door leading to the study, and
prepared himself to make an open, candid explanation.

The other side of the door, in the study, a family council was being
held. The subject under discussion was an exceedingly disagreeable
and delicate one. Sasha Uskov had cashed at one of the banks a false
promissory note, and it had become due for payment three days before,
and now his two paternal uncles and Ivan Markovitch, the brother
of his dead mother, were deciding the question whether they should
pay the money and save the family honour, or wash their hands of
it and leave the case to go for trial.

To outsiders who have no personal interest in the matter such
questions seem simple; for those who are so unfortunate as to have
to decide them in earnest they are extremely difficult. The uncles
had been talking for a long time, but the problem seemed no nearer
decision.

"My friends!" said the uncle who was a colonel, and there was a
note of exhaustion and bitterness in his voice. "Who says that
family honour is a mere convention? I don't say that at all. I am
only warning you against a false view; I am pointing out the
possibility of an unpardonable mistake. How can you fail to see it?
I am not speaking Chinese; I am speaking Russian!"

"My dear fellow, we do understand," Ivan Markovitch protested mildly.

"How can you understand if you say that I don't believe in family
honour? I repeat once more: fa-mil-y ho-nour fal-sely un-der-stood
is a prejudice! Falsely understood! That's what I say: whatever may
be the motives for screening a scoundrel, whoever he may be, and
helping him to escape punishment, it is contrary to law and unworthy
of a gentleman. It's not saving the family honour; it's civic
cowardice! Take the army, for instance. . . . The honour of the
army is more precious to us than any other honour, yet we don't
screen our guilty members, but condemn them. And does the honour
of the army suffer in consequence? Quite the opposite!"

The other paternal uncle, an official in the Treasury, a taciturn,
dull-witted, and rheumatic man, sat silent, or spoke only of the
fact that the Uskovs' name would get into the newspapers if the
case went for trial. His opinion was that the case ought to be
hushed up from the first and not become public property; but, apart
from publicity in the newspapers, he advanced no other argument in
support of this opinion.

The maternal uncle, kind-hearted Ivan Markovitch, spoke smoothly,
softly, and with a tremor in his voice. He began with saying that
youth has its rights and its peculiar temptations. Which of us has
not been young, and who has not been led astray? To say nothing of
ordinary mortals, even great men have not escaped errors and mistakes
in their youth. Take, for instance, the biography of great writers.
Did not every one of them gamble, drink, and draw down upon himself
the anger of right-thinking people in his young days? If Sasha's
error bordered upon crime, they must remember that Sasha had received
practically no education; he had been expelled from the high school
in the fifth class; he had lost his parents in early childhood, and
so had been left at the tenderest age without guidance and good,
benevolent influences. He was nervous, excitable, had no firm ground
under his feet, and, above all, he had been unlucky. Even if he
were guilty, anyway he deserved indulgence and the sympathy of all
compassionate souls. He ought, of course, to be punished, but he
was punished as it was by his conscience and the agonies he was
enduring now while awaiting the sentence of his relations. The
comparison with the army made by the Colonel was delightful, and
did credit to his lofty intelligence; his appeal to their feeling
of public duty spoke for the chivalry of his soul, but they must
not forget that in each individual the citizen is closely linked
with the Christian. . . .

"Shall we be false to civic duty," Ivan Markovitch exclaimed
passionately, "if instead of punishing an erring boy we hold out
to him a helping hand?"

Ivan Markovitch talked further of family honour. He had not the
honour to belong to the Uskov family himself, but he knew their
distinguished family went back to the thirteenth century; he did
not forget for a minute, either, that his precious, beloved sister
had been the wife of one of the representatives of that name. In
short, the family was dear to him for many reasons, and he refused
to admit the idea that, for the sake of a paltry fifteen hundred
roubles, a blot should be cast on the escutcheon that was beyond
all price. If all the motives he had brought forward were not
sufficiently convincing, he, Ivan Markovitch, in conclusion, begged
his listeners to ask themselves what was meant by crime? Crime is
an immoral act founded upon ill-will. But is the will of man free?
Philosophy has not yet given a positive answer to that question.
Different views were held by the learned. The latest school of
Lombroso, for instance, denies the freedom of the will, and considers
every crime as the product of the purely anatomical peculiarities
of the individual.

"Ivan Markovitch," said the Colonel, in a voice of entreaty, "we
are talking seriously about an important matter, and you bring in
Lombroso, you clever fellow. Think a little, what are you saying
all this for? Can you imagine that all your thunderings and rhetoric
will furnish an answer to the question?"

Sasha Uskov sat at the door and listened. He felt neither terror,
shame, nor depression, but only weariness and inward emptiness. It
seemed to him that it made absolutely no difference to him whether
they forgave him or not; he had come here to hear his sentence and
to explain himself simply because kind-hearted Ivan Markovitch had
begged him to do so. He was not afraid of the future. It made no
difference to him where he was: here in the hall, in prison, or in
Siberia.

"If Siberia, then let it be Siberia, damn it all!"

He was sick of life and found it insufferably hard. He was inextricably
involved in debt; he had not a farthing in his pocket; his family
had become detestable to him; he would have to part from his friends
and his women sooner or later, as they had begun to be too contemptuous
of his sponging on them. The future looked black.

Sasha was indifferent, and was only disturbed by one circumstance;
the other side of the door they were calling him a scoundrel and a
criminal. Every minute he was on the point of jumping up, bursting
into the study and shouting in answer to the detestable metallic
voice of the Colonel:

"You are lying!"

"Criminal" is a dreadful word--that is what murderers, thieves,
robbers are; in fact, wicked and morally hopeless people. And Sasha
was very far from being all that. . . . It was true he owed a great
deal and did not pay his debts. But debt is not a crime, and it is
unusual for a man not to be in debt. The Colonel and Ivan Markovitch
were both in debt. . . .

"What have I done wrong besides?" Sasha wondered.

He had discounted a forged note. But all the young men he knew did
the same. Handrikov and Von Burst always forged IOU's from their
parents or friends when their allowances were not paid at the regular
time, and then when they got their money from home they redeemed
them before they became due. Sasha had done the same, but had not
redeemed the IOU because he had not got the money which Handrikov
had promised to lend him. He was not to blame; it was the fault of
circumstances. It was true that the use of another person's signature
was considered reprehensible; but, still, it was not a crime but a
generally accepted dodge, an ugly formality which injured no one
and was quite harmless, for in forging the Colonel's signature Sasha
had had no intention of causing anybody damage or loss.

"No, it doesn't mean that I am a criminal . . ." thought Sasha.
"And it's not in my character to bring myself to commit a crime. I
am soft, emotional. . . . When I have the money I help the poor. . . ."

Sasha was musing after this fashion while they went on talking the
other side of the door.

"But, my friends, this is endless," the Colonel declared, getting
excited. "Suppose we were to forgive him and pay the money. You
know he would not give up leading a dissipated life, squandering
money, making debts, going to our tailors and ordering suits in our
names! Can you guarantee that this will be his last prank? As far
as I am concerned, I have no faith whatever in his reforming!"

The official of the Treasury muttered something in reply; after him
Ivan Markovitch began talking blandly and suavely again. The Colonel
moved his chair impatiently and drowned the other's words with his
detestable metallic voice. At last the door opened and Ivan Markovitch
came out of the study; there were patches of red on his lean shaven
face.

"Come along," he said, taking Sasha by the hand. "Come and speak
frankly from your heart. Without pride, my dear boy, humbly and
from your heart."

Sasha went into the study. The official of the Treasury was sitting
down; the Colonel was standing before the table with one hand in
his pocket and one knee on a chair. It was smoky and stifling in
the study. Sasha did not look at the official or the Colonel; he
felt suddenly ashamed and uncomfortable. He looked uneasily at Ivan
Markovitch and muttered:

"I'll pay it . . . I'll give it back. . . ."

"What did you expect when you discounted the IOU?" he heard a
metallic voice.

"I . . . Handrikov promised to lend me the money before now."

Sasha could say no more. He went out of the study and sat down again
on the chair near the door.

He would have been glad to go away altogether at once, but he was
choking with hatred and he awfully wanted to remain, to tear the
Colonel to pieces, to say something rude to him. He sat trying to
think of something violent and effective to say to his hated uncle,
and at that moment a woman's figure, shrouded in the twilight,
appeared at the drawing-room door. It was the Colonel's wife. She
beckoned Sasha to her, and, wringing her hands, said, weeping:

"_Alexandre_, I know you don't like me, but . . . listen to me;
listen, I beg you. . . . But, my dear, how can this have happened?
Why, it's awful, awful! For goodness' sake, beg them, defend yourself,
entreat them."

Sasha looked at her quivering shoulders, at the big tears that were
rolling down her cheeks, heard behind his back the hollow, nervous
voices of worried and exhausted people, and shrugged his shoulders.
He had not in the least expected that his aristocratic relations
would raise such a tempest over a paltry fifteen hundred roubles!
He could not understand her tears nor the quiver of their voices.

An hour later he heard that the Colonel was getting the best of it;
the uncles were finally inclining to let the case go for trial.

"The matter's settled," said the Colonel, sighing. "Enough."

After this decision all the uncles, even the emphatic Colonel,
became noticeably depressed. A silence followed.

"Merciful Heavens!" sighed Ivan Markovitch. "My poor sister!"

And he began saying in a subdued voice that most likely his sister,
Sasha's mother, was present unseen in the study at that moment. He
felt in his soul how the unhappy, saintly woman was weeping, grieving,
and begging for her boy. For the sake of her peace beyond the grave,
they ought to spare Sasha.

The sound of a muffled sob was heard. Ivan Markovitch was weeping
and muttering something which it was impossible to catch through
the door. The Colonel got up and paced from corner to corner. The
long conversation began over again.

But then the clock in the drawing-room struck two. The family council
was over. To avoid seeing the person who had moved him to such
wrath, the Colonel went from the study, not into the hall, but into
the vestibule. . . . Ivan Markovitch came out into the hall. . . .
He was agitated and rubbing his hands joyfully. His tear-stained
eyes looked good-humoured and his mouth was twisted into a smile.

"Capital," he said to Sasha. "Thank God! You can go home, my dear,
and sleep tranquilly. We have decided to pay the sum, but on condition
that you repent and come with me tomorrow into the country and set
to work."

A minute later Ivan Markovitch and Sasha in their great-coats and
caps were going down the stairs. The uncle was muttering something
edifying. Sasha did not listen, but felt as though some uneasy
weight were gradually slipping off his shoulders. They had forgiven
him; he was free! A gust of joy sprang up within him and sent a
sweet chill to his heart. He longed to breathe, to move swiftly,
to live! Glancing at the street lamps and the black sky, he remembered
that Von Burst was celebrating his name-day that evening at the
"Bear," and again a rush of joy flooded his soul. . . .

"I am going!" he decided.

But then he remembered he had not a farthing, that the companions
he was going to would despise him at once for his empty pockets.
He must get hold of some money, come what may!

"Uncle, lend me a hundred roubles," he said to Ivan Markovitch.

His uncle, surprised, looked into his face and backed against a
lamp-post.

"Give it to me," said Sasha, shifting impatiently from one foot to
the other and beginning to pant. "Uncle, I entreat you, give me a
hundred roubles."

His face worked; he trembled, and seemed on the point of attacking
his uncle. . . .

"Won't you?" he kept asking, seeing that his uncle was still amazed
and did not understand. "Listen. If you don't, I'll give myself up
tomorrow! I won't let you pay the IOU! I'll present another false
note tomorrow!"

Petrified, muttering something incoherent in his horror, Ivan
Markovitch took a hundred-rouble note out of his pocket-book and
gave it to Sasha. The young man took it and walked rapidly away
from him. . . .

Taking a sledge, Sasha grew calmer, and felt a rush of joy within
him again. The "rights of youth" of which kind-hearted Ivan Markovitch
had spoken at the family council woke up and asserted themselves.
Sasha pictured the drinking-party before him, and, among the bottles,
the women, and his friends, the thought flashed through his mind:

"Now I see that I am a criminal; yes, I am a criminal."

Friday, December 29, 2017

"Das Gassenfenster", by Franz Kafka: "The Street Window" an English version. "Das Gassenfenster", by Franz Kafka, with Original Text in German, "The Street Window" translated in English


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  Amazon and Lulu.





The Street Window


    Whoever leads a solitary life and yet from time to time wants to connect somewhere, whoever, according to changes in the time of day, the weather, the professional circumstances, and the like, suddenly wishes to see any arm at all to which he could cling to, — then he will not be able to get by for long without a window looking onto the street. And if his mood is such that, just as a tired man, he does not desire anything, his eyes turning from his audience to the sky and back again, at his window sill, not wanting to look out and having thrown his head up a little, even then the horses below will draw him down into their train of wagons and tumult, and so at last into the human concord.


Das Gassenfenster

 
    Wer verlassen lebt und sich doch hie und da irgendwo anschließen möchte, wer mit Rücksicht auf die Veränderungen der Tageszeit der Witterung, der Berufsverhältnisse und dergleichen ohne weiteres irgendeinen beliebigen Arm sehen will, an dem er sich halten könnte, — der wird es ohne ein Gassenfenster nicht lange treiben. Und steht es mit ihm so, daß er gar nichts sucht und nur als müder Mann, die Augen auf und ab zwischen Publikum und Himmel, an seine Fensterbrüstung tritt, und er will nicht und hat ein wenig den Kopf zurückgeneigt, so reißen ihn doch unten die Pferde mit in ihr Gefolge von Wagen und Lärm und damit endlich der menschlichen Eintracht zu.