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Алесіны прыгоды ў Цудазем’і
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Belarusian

Алесіны прыгоды ў Цудазем’і

By Lewis Carroll, translated into Belarusian by Max Ščur

First edition, 2013. Illustrations by John Tenniel. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-78201-044-9 (paperback), price: €12.95, £10.95, $15.95. OUT OF PRINT

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«У тым баку,» Кот паказаў некуды праваю лапаю, «жыве Шапавал; а ў тым,» ён узьняў левую, «жыве Марцовы Заяц. Можаш наведаць любога—яны абодва вар’яты.»   “In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw around, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
«Але я не хачу да вар’ятаў,» запярэчыла Алеся.   “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
«А што ты зробіш!» паспачуваў ёй Кот. «Мы ўсе тут вар’яты. І я. І ты.»   “Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
«Адкуль вы ведаеце, што я вар’ятка?» спыталася Алеся.   “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
«А хто ты яшчэ?» зьдзівіўся Кот. «Іначай ты б сюды ня трапіла.»   “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn't have come here.”
Cat Clárach
    Lewis Carroll is a pen-name: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was the author’s real name and he was lecturer in Mathematics in Christ Church, Oxford. Dodgson began the story on 4 July 1862, when he took a journey in a rowing boat on the river Thames in Oxford together with the Reverend Robinson Duckworth, with Alice Liddell (ten years of age) the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church, and with her two sisters, Lorina (thirteen years of age), and Edith (eight years of age). As is clear from the poem at the beginning of the book, the three girls asked Dodgson for a story and reluctantly at first he began to tell the first version of the story to them. There are many half-hidden references made to the five of them throughout the text of the book itself, which was published finally in 1865.
    Both of Lewis Carroll’s books about Alice were widely known and enjoyed in Belarus in Russian translations a long time before the first Belarusian translation appeared. The main character, Alice, was quite popular due to a number of films and cartoons. The delay with a Belarusian Alice trans­lation can be attributed to the government’s cultural politics during Soviet times, when translations of “bourgeois” Western writers, even the classic ones, into a small national language were not encouraged.
    The first attempt to translate Alice into Belarusian was made in the late 1990s by Dzʹmitry Zaxarčuk, a student of the Minsk State Linguistic University, whose abridged translation was part of his master’s degree thesis. The first full translations of both Alice and Through the Looking-Glass were mine, completed in 2001. The next year my version of Alice was published in Minsk in the magazine Arche No. 2 in its special issue called “Our Children” (2002). The text was deeply and, in a number of cases, arbitrarily changed (that is, both improved and damaged at the same time) by the editorial supervisor, Belarusian poet and linguist Jurasʹ Pacjupa, whose decisions I couldn’t influence. In spite of some righteous criticism from me and the English scholar Alena Tabolič (namely in her book The Art of Translating Fiction: English–Belarusian, 2004) for its “linguistic show­manship and wantonness,” the publication was heartily welcomed by the reading public because they had waited for many years for a Belarusian version of this children’s classic. In the following years, several other Belarusian translations of both Alice books appeared (see References), but none of them has been published in book form yet. Nevertheless, this finally proved that the Belarusian language had ripened enough to deal with Lewis Carroll.
    My Alice in Belarusian eventually ended up online and was found there by Ivan Derzhanski, the Bulgarian writer for the Alice in Translation project. He traced me to Prague where the Czech writer for the project, Jiří Rambousek, located me. In the end, it was Alice translation specialist Michael Everson who came with the offer to publish the book in Ireland.
    For the present edition, I re-revised my translation and cor­rected a number of serious mistakes in the afore­men­tioned magazine version of Alice’s Adventures. The first and the biggest change that I introduced was that of the title: I changed the “Miraculous country” from the first version back to “Wonderland,” in order to show my intention to stick to the original text as close as I wanted from the beginning. With the help of my friend and Belarusian scholar Jurasʹ Bušljakoŭ (1973–2013), also the proof-reader of my Looking-Glass translation, I detected a number of errors and misuses commited by the former editor. So, we had to change words like пляснуў (pljasnuŭ ‘slapped’) to пліснуў (plisnuŭ ‘threw water’), туляўся (tuljaŭsja ‘wandered around’) to туліўся (tuliŭsja ‘cuddled’), вяшчун (vjaščun ‘prophet’) to вястун (vjastun ‘herald’), ступа (stupa ‘mortar’) to ступня (stupnja ‘foot’), яхаць (jaxacʹ ‘to bark’) to зяхаць (zjaxacʹ ‘to pant’), казерыцца (kazerycca ‘to stare’, dialectal term) to казеліць вочы (kazelicʹ vočy ‘to stareʹ, literary expression), etc. On the other hand, I finally approved and accepted some of Jurasʹ Pacjupa’s ideas, such as names Марцовы Заяц (Marcovy Zajac) for March Hare or Шапавал (Šapaval) for the Hatter.
    Generally speaking, my approach to translating Alice was to recognize that the English language there was more than just a vehicle or meaning of expression, it was Carroll’s fully legitimate “co-author”. The story is based on an oral narra­tion, and many characters and ideas in the book must have emerged spontaneously from the language itself, as much from its rules as from the author’s will to break them. I tried to make the Belarusian language function in the same way using its own treasury to express the richness of the original text.
    From the beginning, I did not want to take a foreign name for the girl (no matter if English, Polish, or Russian) and so baptized her Alesja (Алеся—the idea belonged to my friend Anton Taras, Belarusian journalist and poet). Consequently, I had to “translate” all the other characters’ names in a similar way. Hence, Dinah is Dzjanka (Дзянка); Pat is Patrykej (Патрыкей—originally Irish, he speaks with Russian accent in my Belarusian version); the cards Two, Five, and Seven are given human names, Kurdupelʹ (Кур­дупель—from дубал or дупель (dubalʹ or dupielʹ, ‘pair, double’), Pjatrok (Пятрок—from пяць (pjacʹ) ‘five’) and Sëmka (Сёмка—from сёмы (sëmy) ‘seventh’ and сямёрка (sjamërka) ‘seven’) respectively. The task was quite complicated in those cases when a name derived from an English expression that had no parallel in Belarusian. For example, there is no such phrase like “to grin like a Cheshire cat”, and moreover, few Belarusians have a clear idea about where Cheshire exactly lies. Nonetheless, there is a Bela­rusian town of Dobruš: the name comes from dobry (добры), meaning ‘good-natured’. Hence, my Cheshire Cat is a Dobrush Cat. Thus, when Alice introduces the Cat to the King in Chapter VIII, he replies, “It doesn’t look so good-natured to me” (In the original: “I don’t like the look of it”).
    A different problem was with the Mock Turtle. It is not too hard to imagine a turtle or even turtle soup, but “mock turtle soup” is something that belongs to the English and not to the Belarusians. Normally, the name Mock Turtle is translated (at least, in Russian) like “False, Pseudo-, Quasi-Turtle,” etc., but the difficulty here is that none of those names gives a proper idea about what this creature is like or from where its name comes. Among a large number of Belarusian words that could possibly serve the purpose, I chose the particle бы (by ‘as if’) and made it one word with чарапаха (čarapaxa ‘turtle’). That was for one reason: the resulting Бычарапаха (Byčarapaxa) strongly suggests the words бычыны (byčyny ‘belonging to a bull’ or ‘bull-like’) and бычок (byčok ‘calf’, literally ‘a small bull’)—and calf’s head is exactly what mock turtle soup is made of (this is why the Mock Turtle looks like a calf in Tenniel’s drawing). Of course, that last gastronomic detail had to be explained in the commentaries, but I think that my solution here is close to the original text.
    As to proverbs and other idioms, I tried to replace them with their Belarusian equivalents (if there were such) in order to play with them in Carroll’s way. I did the same with Carroll’s own wordplays. For example, “Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves” is, in Belarusian, “Голас да голаса – толк будзе” (Holas da holasa – tok budze ‘A voice and a voice make sense’, from Колас да коласа – сноп будзе (Kolas da kolasa – snop bydze ‘A spike and a spike make a sheaf’). “Drawling, Stretching and Fainting in Coils” is Баляваньне, Прыставаньне, Разьвярства (Baljavanʹne, Prystavanʹne, Razʹvjarstva ‘Celebrating, Molesting, Gamboling’), from Маляваньне, Рысаваньне, Разьбярства (Maljavanʹne, Rysavanʹne, Razʹbjarstva ‘Painting, Drawing, Sculpture’). “Reeling and Writhing” is Часаць і Пытаць (Časacʹ i Pytacʹ ‘Rushing and Asking’), from Чытаць і Пісаць (Čytacʹ i Pisacʹ ‘Reading and Writing’). “Mystery, ancient and modern” is Гістэрыя ўся­сьветная й нацыянальная (Histèryja, ŭsjasʹvetnaja j nacyjanalʹnaja ‘Hysteria, global and nation­al’), etc.—these are just some of the easiest examples.
    As to the poems, I mostly translated them to Belarusian as they were, but I replaced some with my own versions of well-known Belarusian classic poems. The reason was that they apparently belonged to school reading in Carroll’s time—so I took several school poems from the last century and adapted them to the text. Those were: “Не сядзіцца ў хаце…” (“Ne sjadzicca ŭ xace…” instead of “How doth the little crocodile”), “Дзядзька ў Вільні” (“Dzjadzka ŭ Vilni” here, I borrowed only the title, for in Belarusian it sounds very much like “Father William”: “Batska Villjam”; the rest of the poem was translated after the original version) and “Мой родны кут” (“Moj rodny kut” for “Beautiful Soup”—the original is a famous Belarusian song about the beauty of the motherland and can be not only read, but also sung), all three by Jakub Kolas. In the opening of both parts of “’Tis the voice of the Lobster”, I used the initial lines of Janka Kupala’s poem “Курган” (“Kurhan”; in the former version, it was equally famous Maksim Bahdanovič’s “Зорка Вэнэра” “Zorka Vènèra”), for they happened to have the same rhythmical structure as the original verse. All of the poems were re-revised for the present edition.
    Perhaps the biggest challenge was, surprisingly, not the translation of puns, but that of verbs introducing speech: Carroll uses “said,” “asked,” and “thought” on regular basis, whereas repeating those words in Belarusian would be stylis­tically unacceptable. They had to be replaced with verbs like “consented,” “agreed,” “presumed,” “supposed,” “guessed,” “protested,” “objected,” “denied,” etc. Their use makes the biggest difference between the original text and its Bela­rusian version.
    I believe that, in the updated version of my Belarusian Alice, accuracy finally comes to terms with elegance and creativity, at least as much (and sometimes even more suc­cessfully) as in those Russian, Spanish, and Czech trans­lations that I consulted for comparison.
    —Max Ščur

 
HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2013-08-08

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