Friday, April 4, 2014

Le Luth Brisé, My Translation Project

So last Saturday I went to a book sale. All you can stuff into a bag for $4.00. I perused the foreign language section and was able to pick up some French titles, including a quantum mechanics textbook. I anticipate reading that one will be a challenge.

That's not the one I'm translating.

I found a book of poetry called "Le Luth Brisé" (The Broken Lute), and I figured it would give me some good practice with writing and comprehending French if I translated it. Also, it seems like it's short enough to not be overwhelming or turn into an eternal project. If nothing else, I'm going to master the Alt codes for all those accented letters.

The book is autographed by the author, Iréne Kanfer. There is a short message, but it's both cursive and French, so I haven't tried to translate it yet. It can be hard enough for me to read cursive when it's English (Also, I wonder if "cursive script" will get it's own classification as an ancient form of writing in oh, say, fifty years or something).

When I find an autographed book at a sale, it makes me feel a little sad. Someone once cared enough to get the book autographed. Then something happened, and it makes it to the $4.00-a-bag day in the course of a four-day book sale. Did the owner of the book die, and all their books get donated to this sale? Did the owner just look at the book and go "meh, this is taking up too much space on my shelf"? What has this little book seen?

Welp, it's mine now.

There's also not a lot on the Internet about Iréne Kanfer. I *think* she was a Polish Jew, who translated "Le Luth Brisé" from Polish and Yiddish into French (she got mention as a Jewish French writer, and from the forward, she appears to have lived in Poland). She also appears to have written or compiled several other books of poetry, and may have gone by the name Irma Kanfer, based on one of the names in the early pages of "Le Luth Brisé."

I also can't find anything about the publisher, "Presses du Temps Présent," except that they existed and printed a number of books.

As amazing as the Internet is, I can't help but wonder how much media - books, music, art - simply isn't there, and how much information will be lost as we advance into the future. Which is sad. We won't know what we don't know, because in a number of cases we won't know that it had ever existed.

So here's my small contribution to rectifying this issue. The French is on the left, and the English is on the right. I'm copying the French into the document since it's in book form, and it gives me practice with writing French. I am linking to a folder rather than straight to the document, because apparently Google Docs doesn't like columns so I'm going to have to upload a new copy of the Word doc every time I want to update the copy.

Le Luth Brisé

Hope you like it.

P.S. Haven't gotten past the forward yet. Looks like there's at least two more pages before the first poem. This could be...a week or two.

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