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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

New interview

Rear cover detail, front cover detail
by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

An interview diving into Charis in the World of Wonders.
With the stellar questions of Amit Majmudar.


  1. Replies
    1. Oh, thank you! I am so glad you liked it, Dale... means a lot, coming from Dale Favier! I've had some other good comments--relieved, as it is such a big one.

  2. East Anglia - a large coastal pregnancy facing Holland across the North Sea - is probably about 125 miles from Bradford (depending on the EA reference point) where I was born. I first went there in the year the Queen was crowned and/or was married and spent an uneasy fortnight on what was called a houseboat but was more like two coffins nailed together. Thus my association with EA's vulgar tongue was minimal and yet "lag" and "laggard" were and are part of my vocabulary. I find myself fastidious when it comes to words which dictionaries deem to be ob. or obsol.. Phonetically, laggard has useful strength, whereas nabbity and frampled sound self-conscious or Olde Worlde.

    The above para may have done nothing for you but it has peeled back layers of consciousness for me. Laggard needs my help and I intend to salute its attractions by using it (ie, devising a suitable context) some time soon. Laggard will thank me for this but the word should also thank you for reminding me of its existence. Expect a roll of parchment soon.

    Another layer rolls away. Our pinchbeck (Sounds familiar?) honeymoon was more of a penance than a celebration, touring Britain on my mother's motor-scooter in early October. We found ourselves in the wetlands area called the Norfolk Broads (source of many obvious jokes) which is in EA. We needed to get to Horning but dams, dykes and waterways stood in our way. We asked for local help:

    "Oo damn ee. Ye must go to somewhere else."

    You slip into the role of interviewee like a hand into a silken glove.

    PS: Recently I've become besotted with "comely". Does it have a place in 2020?

  3. Yes, comely... keep it. I used "athwart" last month but will probably revise it out. Alas. Good fit, wrong era.

    Hah, two coffins nailed together! Laggard I like, and lag, and lagarag... But the trick with the odd ones is to pepper and salt lightly and rub in at the right places. Parchment welcome!

    Love the honeymoon tale and will refrain from Horning jokes (even more obvious jokes) as well as Norfolk Broads jokes. Great anecdote. Your mother's motor scooter... priceless, as is the response.

    And thank you for the compliment. Much liked and appreciated.

    Having an odd week. We thought Nate needed an outing and went to Syracuse for a frolic: Dinosaur BBQ, glow-in-the-dark golf, mirror maze, go-cart races. Pleased him. Masks and distancings were had, even in these peculiar places.

  4. Remember what I said about relay races and the baton being returned in a different shape. This was me ten years ago:

    Shakespeare into French – some problems
    Plus a DIY experiment

    In a French translation of Romeo and Juliet I came upon this line from the Queen Mab speech

    Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep

    rendered as:

    Se poser sur le nez des hommes quand ils dorment

    Even those with minimal French will recognise there has been no attempt to tackle the tricky but worthwhile athwart. Nor is lying asleep distinguished from the bare French: they sleep, they are sleeping. This is a crib to get the reader through the play. The poetry, it seems, may wait.


    There's more, a lot more, including a sonnet I wrote which I dangerously translated into French. But it was your "athwart" that sounded the bell of memory and send me scurrying back into my earlier blog, Works Well. I was more inventive then.

    1. I did not know you were in the habit of reading translations of Shakespeare from English into French! Nor that you translated your poems from English into French. If I were an envious sort, I would be envious. As I am not, I am simply full of admiration.

      Speaking of "no attempt to tackle the tricky but worthwhile" when translating from French makes me think of Twain. In high school (source of my fragments of French, mere jots and motes), I had a copy of "The Jumping Frog: In English, Then in French, and Then Clawed Back Into A Civilized Language Once More by Patient, Unremunerated Toil." I expect translating humor is especially hard...

  5. Humour stumbles and falls when it reaches a linguistic frontier. Or even a non-linguistic one. Many Brits just don't get certain strains of US humour, especially where there's an admixture of Jewishness. And, of course, vice versa. The funniest modern French novel I know is Gros Calin by Romain Gary but I fear I'd open an English translation with enormous trepidation. Mind you, it would be worth polishing up your French just for the experience.

    How many more things do you not know about me? First jazz, now translations. I have this gloomy suspicion I am a mere skeletal presence in your memory banks. I could provide you with a link to the Shakespeare/French piece but it is enormously long and I hesitate to add any form of burden to your productive busyness. I even worry about the frequency and inordinate length of my comments.

    I could provide the English and French versions of my sonnet but that would come perilously close to exhibitionism. Perhaps just one line (the sonnet takes a pragmatic view of our fiftieth) would still leave me shriven:

    A joke that shares more than a wedding ring

    Une blague qui vaut mieux qu’une alliance

    NB: The French is not rendered in iambic pentameter. I am after all a skeleton, not Superman.

  6. Humor is strange. Yes, it often doesn't pass border, but it also is perishable over time (of course, many books perish in time) and when customs of behavior change, and when relations between the sexes change. It easily becomes dull and stupid, or else offensive...

    Well, what else could you do but head for meters that fit English?

    You are not at all a skeleton but nice and round, although I am sure you are a person of myriad interest and will continue to offer sprouts of surprise. I should have guessed that you like translation, given how you feel about poetry and French. Well, like humor, I can be dull and stupid at times!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.