Thursday, 9 October 2008

Joyce on the jacks

Nothing like leaping in at the deep end, I always say.

Today's translation mystery was a nice little chunk of Ulysses, which we started off discussing and in my case, attempting to translate in the wrong direction. I have no intention whatsoever of working out of my mother tongue into French and Italian, but that is precisely what this morning required.

Go on, have fun with this. I dare you.

Asquat on the cuckstool he folded out his paper, turning its pages over on his bared knees. Something new and easy. No great hurry. Keep it a bit. Our prize titbit: MATCHAM’S MASTERSTROKE. Written by Mr Philip Beaufoy, Playgoers’ Club, London. Payment at the rate of one guinea a column has been made to the writer. Three and a half. Three pounds three. Three pounds, thirteen and six.

Quietly he read, restraining himself, the first column and, yielding but resisting, began the second. Midway, his last resistance yielding, he allowed his bowels to ease themselves quietly as he read, reading still patiently that slight constipation of yesterday quite gone. Hope it’s not too big bring on piles again. No, just right. So. Ah! Costive. One tabloid of cascara sagrada. Life might be so. It did not move or touch him but it was something quick and neat. Print anything now. Silly season. He read on, seated calm above his own rising smell. Neat certainly. MATCHAM OFTEN THINKS OF THE MASTERSTROKE BY WHICH HE WON THE LAUGHING WITCH WHO NOW. Begins and ends morally. HAND IN HAND. Smart. He glanced back through what he had read and, while feeling his water flow quietly, he envied kindly Mr Beaufoy who had written it and received payment of three pounds, thirteen and six.

Obvious issues arose around terms like 'asquat', 'cuckstool' (except for the Germans), all the –ing terms for the Dutch were problematical, 'costive', and, well, by the time we hit 'the laughing witch who now', we were ready for a mid-morning drink.