Since this post will be an array of topics I couldn’t decide on what to call it. So I made it up.
My prize book packet has arrived. I was not to be kept in suspense for long, even though it stated that it could take up to 4 weeks after the draft to receive the books. They came on Tuesday already. And so, with no further delay, may I present to you:
Book packet from Lindhardt & Ringhof
What we have here is Michael Katz Krefeld’s ‘Protokollen’ (The Protocol), Charlotte Weitze’s Sværmeri (Romance) and Martin Hall’s Kinoplex. Now, I don’t like to sound ungrateful, but I highly doubt I will be reading the second one, and most certaintly not the first (with a text on the back introducing the plot like so: A car bomb kills twenty three at a fashionable restaurant in Copenhagen center. Everything hints at a terrorist attack, but no one has yet to take responsibility. It just reeks to much of tabloid literature for me to want to use time analysing it), so if you are in the neighborhood or want all of a sudden to spend 80,- on coffee at Ricco’s downtown on me (and you) in order to get your hands on them, you know where to buzz. But the third one intrigues me. So not getting that one, I will however be happy to share what it’s like when I’ve read it.
In other happy news I have finally submitted my translation of a youth novel from English to Faroese to the publishers. I am looking forward to seeing the bloodbath (or as a Faroese would say: grindadráp) that will or will not come hailing down on paper when they look through it. Joke aside, it is really nice to have it off my shoulders, and there is something to be said about completing one task before going on with the next. So I gave myself a well deserved time off consisting of a bubble bath, candles, a book, some tea and chocolate, I mean I went all girly on myself. And now it’s back to business, this time cramming my brain in exam mode, steering towards the best 15-pages internship assignment that has ever entered KUA’s premises. It will change the meaning of assignments, people after me are going to go: “You did what? Nooo man, where have you been, that’s not how you write internship assignments, that is such a B.J. entry.”
Anyhoo, I have also been contemplating a blog challenge for myself. It has nagged my that my entries are so sporadic, even though I told myself I would never let the blog run my day, and only write when I felt I had something to share. This will still be the case, but I have been toying with the idea of structuring myself a little more. So I’m thinking of making a booklist to follow and hence write about. I have been around different lists, you know the classic ‘100 titles you must have read otherwise you are the most ignorant person on the face of the earth’ and ’80 titles that are so fantastic, the content must be so too’. But most of them are constructed by someone who is either totally eurocentric (aka – French, English, German literature, with a hint of colonial travel to the darkest pits of Africa or the most erotic parts of the Middle East – also know as the Orient of that genre) or americentric (with a very high emphasis on the individual struggle with…. drumroll please…. the individual! – in national settings). So I am going on a literary voyage across the world, trying not to leave any stone unturned (with the slight downside that I only speak so many languages, so original works in Aramaic and Russian are out unless translated). Aaaand, I will not only be reading novels, but would love to broaden the field with poetry, biographies, comics, etc. If you have any good suggestions, wether heard through the grapevine or read yourself, I would love to hear about it. I am hoping to compile this list so that come the turn of the year, I can go right onboard project “Read and blog your way through the world”.
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe has been on my bookshelf for as long as I have been able to read. When I was a kid I got a children’s version in Faroese from my book club which I faithfully read, and as an adult I bought a copy in the original language, also faithfully reading. And yet, the two situations could not have been farther apart.
As a little girl, what I read was a story of a man trapped on an island, fighting off cannibals and saving a friend whom he named Friday. It was a wonderful and adventurous tale that left me adventurous, ready to pack my suitcase and leaving my parents for the sea life and hoping for a shipwreck on a deserted sunny island. I mean, how hard can it be when you are ingenious by heart like Crusoe? And so I grew up thinking Robinson was a merry, brave and carefree man.
Fast forward to age 27. Scene: I am studying comparative literature now and we are at my translation studies elective. We are discussing literary translation and the problems and choices that come along with being a translator. For my exams I have chosen my trusted friend Crusoe as an example of the very interesting shift that comes with translating an 18.century Enlightenment novel (which some would call the first novel in the history of literature) into a Danish children’s book. And so I buy a copy of the original as it was written back in the days, and borrow 2 children’s versions in Danish for comparison.
The funny thing about reading Robinson Crusoe when you are respectively 10 and 27 is that a lot of growing up happens in the mean time 🙂 At 27 I am baffled over the complexity of the character Crusoe, truly an individualist at heart. And a struggling one at that. He is definitely not all rainbows and sunsets and heroically saving the day and life of a fellow man. No, no, no. Before the shipwreck Robinson Crusoe is a wretched soul who has spent his youth squandering his possibilities away, not respecting his parents and living it up, as we could say. And the ‘blink of an eye’ moment I had perceived his stay on the island to be at age 10, was actually a loooooong time filled with sickness, hard toiling and dangerous situations that leave Crusoe not so much a hero as a survivor.
When I wrote my paper on the translation and transposition of 18. century Crusoe to 20.-21.century children’s literature, I concluded that a lot of depth had been lost in this transaction, and it was questionable if Crusoe, as Defoe had written him, was stilted by the act. I still feel that it is a very interesting question. The grown-up version deals with huge themes of religious piety, colonization, master-slave relationship and the individual as a free agent. This is all very much watered down in the children’s version.
When you think about children’s books in the genre fantasy and adventure, Crusoe almost always creeps up as example par excellence (well, back in my days, today it’s probably more likely to be Twilight by infinity and Harry Potter, god bless them). But when you compare the two – Crusoe for adults, and Crusoe for children – it’s so obvious that the adjustments that are taken to convert the story to children is so encroaching upon the thematics of the text that it renders it flawed. I was, to say the least, baffled when I read Robinson as an adult, because the image I had had of him as a child and the storyline + a given morale was completely different from the one I could put in a historical and literary context as an adult.
Having said that, the memory of my suitcase and the adventurous dreams Robinson inspired in me, still brings me to the conclusion, that as a child I knew and loved a story of a man called Robinson Crusoe who climbed coconut trees and built huts on a deserted island far away. And as a child I couldn’t care less that the adults had to read Crusoe as someone who was a product of the historical waves of an increasingly individualistic society, deeply frustrated, borderline certifiable and alone on an island.