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Thread: Karl Ristikivi

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    One possible conception of translating Ristikivi would be: in what language is the novel "written". "The Burning Banner" is in some sense written in Latin. (This is really a complicated matter because there are several implicite authors in that novel and at least one of them can be identified with Ristikivi, and that one speaks Estonian.)

    "The Isle of Miracles" and "Bridal Veil" are in Italian, I suppose. "Noble Hearts" is in English. And so on.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Although I'm more of a practical than theoretical person by nature, a literary translator must always keep one eye on the theory, as it can sometimes illuminate parts of a text when translating.

    So I read, a couple of days ago, an article called "Author and Narrator in Karl Ristikivi's 'Burning Banner'" written by someone that I am sure you will have met... I read there about the various narrators, explicit and implied.

    Your idea of the "original" language that various Ristikivi novels were written in is a fruitful path to tread. I'm sure that you've already incorporated such ideas in your work, because they are truly worth thinking about. If you extrapolate from such a theory, Jaan Kross' "Sailing Into the Wind", "Professor Martens' Departure" and "Michelson's Matriculation" would inevitably become palimpsest novels, as the humble Estonian peasants involved will have had to use both the German and Russian languages to achieve their goals, later in life. (There's nothing worse than bringing your parents to a posh do, and having them blab loudly in a language called Local or Peasant or Bumpkin...) Whereas Timotheus von Bock will have been more firmly in the German-speaking camp. And the beginning of "Between Three Plagues" shows the array of languages spoken in Reval at the time; maybe that novel too was "written" in German, overlayering the Estonian.

    As a translator from Estonian, I'm glad that I can at least read the three "hidden" languages of Estonia: Swedish, German and Russian. My Swedish is very good, I can read German reasonably well, and my Russian is rather basic. But when translating Kross, I've had a lot of benefit from knowing at least something from these languages, which are intimately intertwined with the history of your country. That is why I left the following words in the original language when translating Kross' story, "The Ashtray":

    Familya? Imya? Otchestvo? God rozhdeniya? Srok?

    The last one being the most important of all. Could have been 25+5.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Thank You for reading my little exercise;-)

    Yes, that "original language" theory seems to work well on Kross' oeuvre too. History is a palimpsest and its layers can be in different languages. But I don't think this can be applied to every single historical novel. Clear distinction between the implied author and implied narrator is one way to obtain this effect and perhaps not the only one.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    No indeed, Eva, you can't just plonk a theory on every historical novel around, and expect it to fit. But what is intriguing about historical novels is that they can refer to certain present-day phenomena, while examining a period remote from our own. Kross was certainly hinting at Soviet circumstances in "The Czar's Madman". But other historical novels are written completely about the epoch they are set in, without sly references to the present day.

    I'm just looking at the table on page 135 of Wallace Martin's "Recent Theories of Narrative". The table is entitled: An Inventory of Narrators and is food for thought.
    Last edited by Eric; 13-Feb-2009 at 14:33.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Martin Wallace's book is not available in Estonian libraries... Found this table in Amazon Online Reader. A nice precis of narrating theories.

    And Boris Uspensky is mentioned on the next page. He was Lotman's friend and co-author of some papers. Uspensky's thorough and useful book "Poetics of composition" is entirely about the point of view as literary device. I'd like to translate this book into Estonian.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Eva, who is this mysterious Tiit Aleksejev, author of the Crusader novels? I cannot find any real concrete biographical information about him on the internet, suggesting that the name is a pseudonym for someone like Margus Laidre or Tiit Matsulevit?. Or maybe he's a functionary at the Vatican Embassy. Or yet another nom de plume of T?nu ?nnepalu / Emil Tode / Anton Nigov. Or his name's an anagram. Or he's a diplomat in Brussels. Because I've not yet seen one photo of Aleksejev, yet most writers are only too keen on self-promotion.

    Half the writers in Estonia seem to have written under a pseudonym at some time or another, and people like Arthur Valdes didn't even manage to exist. Bernhard Linde was also mysterious in this respect.

    *

    I must have a look on my bookshelves to see whether I have anything by Boris (Andreevich) Uspensky.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    The mysterious Tiit Aleksejev seems to be a real person. A friend of mine said she has given him an exam about the crusades in the history department of Tartu University about 5 years ago. “Akadeemia” has published Aleksejev’s article on medievistics in 1996. There is also a brief introduction of the author, which says that TA was born in 1968, graduated from Tartu University in 1992, has given medieval history lectures in the history department. Official directory of the EU from 2006-2007 says that mr. Tiit Aleksejev is the first secretary of the political and security committee in the Estonian embassy in Brussels. And, btw, Aleksejev does not sound glamourous enough to be a pen name.
    “Palver?nd” (“Pilgrimage”) is a very interesting novel about the first crusade. Ich-Erz?hlung, the narrator is an old monk who used to be a soldier. Of course, I couldn’t resist and started to compare this text with “Last Bastion” by Ristikivi. Pointless comparison as the two novels could not be more different. The best review of “Palver?nd” so far is by Ilmar Raag:
    Ajaloolise idealismi saatusest ristis?dades - Kultuur - Postimees.ee
    Raag says: “Pigem tunnistagem, et Tallinnas elab ?ks kirjanik, kes maailmakodanikuna on sinas?ber 12. sajandi algul kirjutatud kroonikaga ?De Gesta Francorum et aliorum Hierosolimitanorum?”. Raag knew then where Tiit Aleksejev lived:-)

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    So Aleksejev is some sort of diplomat. But he's clearly got an interest in historical and literary matters. The Raag review was perceptive.

    Regarding Ristikivi, I'm wondering which of his novels to tackle now. I have not actually read the Crusades trilogy, but was wondering whether first to read "R??mulaul" or "N?iduse ?pilane" instead. I'm getting towards the end of "M?rsjalinik", but broke off reading it some while back. So I have to "get into" the story line again, before I can pick up all the nuances.

    Just recently, I've been reading a novel by the very English author Anthony Powell, a master of subtlety, and quite humorous. Plus some Finland-Swedish poetry. But I now want to have a phase reading Ristikivi.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Eric,
    I prefer "R??mulaul" and consider it the best of the biographies - very well written and cleverly composed novel.
    I have written about "M?rsjalinik". If You are interested in my essay You can find it easily.

  10. #30
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    Estonia Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Thanks, Eva. I presume you are referring to the 2006 essay on "M?rsjalinik" in Hortus Semioticus, covering the ideas of the holy man and Ristikivi himself, plus the question of the situation of the author outside of the protagonist in the scheme of things ("Autoriks saab olla teine"), transgredience, and so on. I have made a copy onto my hard disk and will read it in due course. The idea of "outsideness" make you conscious of how books are written. Such consciousness, in turn, can manifest itself in nuances of tense, or person, in the translation. So Bakhtinian theory can have a knock-on effect when one is translating.

    I bought a couple of books on Catherine of Siena some years ago, while reading "M?rsjalinik", and will now see, in due course, how the biographies-hagiographies compare with the Ristikivi treatment.

    I think that I shall read "R??mulaul" next, as I feel that with the Crusades Trilogy, you would have to read all three, and I have many things to do right now.

    Ristikivi himself did indeed lead the life of a hermit to an extent, from what I understand.

    There is a book by Boris Uspensky on my shelves called "A Poetics of Composition" from 1973, which I once bought second-hand - and never read! I have a lot of catching up to do. As I've said, I'm a practical person at heart, as translator, but do need the theoreticians to make me aware of various phenomena which, in turn, help me when translating. These include point of view and other aspects of narration.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Eric,
    do You know if Sigrid Undset’s book “Caterina av Siena” is translated into English? I should read it, but I’m afraid I haven’t got time to learn Norwegian or Swedish… And my knowledge of German is too little (the most “German” thing I do is listening to Bach’s cantatas and passions).
    Undset’s book was the main source for Ristikivi when he wrote his “M?rsjalinik”. Hilve Rebane says in her article (Sigrid Undseti “Siena Katarina” ja Karl Ristikivi “M?rsjalinik”) that Ristikivi’s problem was not the lack of sources but the fact that Undset had used them thoroughly and Ristikivi could not find something new for his own interpretation. So in his diary he laments repeatedly that he was forced again to follow Undset’s story. On the other hand, considering the details of Undset’s book I read about in the article by Hilve Rebane, the material fits perfectly in Ristikivi’s grand scheme.

    I was not aware that Uspensky’s book was available in English. This is good news as our department will provide a master program in English too, starting this autumn and, of course, our library will need more translations of Tartu-Moscow school’s works. Not only for students from abroad but also for young Estonians who cannot read in Russian anymore.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Yes, Eva, the Undset book appears to have been translated into English by Kate Austin-Lund in 1954 and published by Sheed and Ward (London). It has 293 pages. Source:

    Amazon.com: Catherine of Siena: Sigrid ( Translated By Kate Austin-Lund ) Undset: Books

    Also on that Amazon website is a short review by Katherine Graham:

    This magnificent and rare biography [Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset, from Sheed & Ward, 1954 - which was the hardcover first edition] - is important for two reasons. First, it is bar none the best biography ever written on the Saint for its scope, depth, and frankly - heart; something Sigrid Undset was known for in all her works - especially the Nobel prize winning Kristin Lavransdatter. Second, she tragically died of illness a few months following the completion of this manuscript, which one suspects took a great deal out of her to complete. I personally searched for this book for years...and I remain most grateful to Amazon for its staunch and loyal support of these rare, vitally significant, out-of-print classics in all genres. Last, I would hope that a publisher out there would give this book and its author (the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature) - consideration to bring the latter back into print for all. Thoroughly inspirational, engaging with never-before information on the unique and beloved Saint - Catherine of Siena.
    Although this translation is rare, it does exist - and so does the inter-library loan system. I'm sure there's a copy available nearer than from Australia:

    Catherine of Siena; translated by Kate Austin-Lund | National Library of Australia

    It was even translated into Dutch, but that doesn't really help you.

    One of the ironies of the break-up of the Soviet Union is that, as you suggest, younger generations of Estonians will no longer be conversant with the Russian language. As Russia is rather near to Estonia and has political developments going on all the time, this lack of interest strikes me as counter-productive. Also in the field of semiotics and literary examination. The Uspensky book is:

    Title: "A Poetics of Composition - The Structure of the Artistic Text and Typology of a Compositional Form"
    Author: Boris Uspensky
    Translators: Valentina Zavarin & Susan Wittig
    Publisher: University of California Press
    Year: 1973
    Pages: 182

    See:

    The Poetics of Composition: Structure of the Poetic Text and the Typology of Compositional Forms by Boris Uspensky, Susan Wittig (Translator), Valentina Zavarin (Translator) (Used, New, Out-of-Print) - Alibris

    The title appears to have been changed slightly when it was reprinted during the 1980s.

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Hello,

    Ristikivi's diary appeared today. Finally. I hope this will cause a new wave of re-reading Ristikivi.

    Meanwhile, on the 14th March, our Emakeelep?ev was the premiere of "Hingede ??" in P?rnu theatre Endla. This play is a fusion of Ristikivi's "Hingede ??" and Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf", written by Margus Kasterpalu. Interesting text and well staged.

    And I've got a copy of Undset's "Catherine of Siena" (which came from Umea and took almost an eternity to arrive)... it is very interesting to see how Ristikivi has drawn the material from this pious biography and transformed it into a novel.

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Thanks for pointing out the existence of the diary, Eva. I'll look out for it on the internet, so I can obtain a copy.

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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi


  16. #36
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    just wanted to say that my grandmother, Ludmilla Simagina, has translated Karl Ristikivi into Russian language...I have to ask her what exactly has been translated, but this year Hingede ?? has seen its life in Russian...
    and last year it was Roman Diary

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    Estonia Re: Karl Ristikivi

    I always smile at the irony that Karl Ristikivi fled what was in effect a Russian invasion of his country and never returned. And yet it is indeed Russian-speakers in Estonia who have had the good taste to translate him into Russian, whilst the rest of the world, including the Swedes, have ignored him. I find it little short of incredible that Ristikivi lived for 33 years in Sweden, and yet no one in Sweden has bothered to translate any of his books into Swedish. He doesn't seem to have attracted even those of the younger generation the Estonian exile community in Sweden who would, by now, be native-speakers. As far as literature written in Sweden is concerned, Ristikivi has been airbrushed out of Swedish history, despite the pedantic entry at the Immigrant Institute as an immigrant author.

    So do ask your granny what she's translated. It would be very interesting to know. I will, of course, read Ristikivi's books in the original Estonian. But translations into any language are helpful when you come across a phrase you simply don't understand. I must order a copy of the Russian "Hingede ??" from Apollo, if it's available there. Online bookshops are very handy when you want to read Estonian and live in another country.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Eric, on estlit.ee I have seen there are three unpublished works by Karl Ristikivi translated by you (not sure how up-to-date it is)

    Karl Ristikivi: Night of Souls (Hingede öö). Novel; 250 pages.

    Karl Ristikivi: A Mirror On Life (Elupeegel). Short-story.

    Karl Ristikivi: Don Juan and the Maid of Orleans (Don Juan ja Neitsi Johanna). Short-story.

    Any progress in finding a publisher? I really would like to read his books and stories but until now they are only available in languages I cant read and learning Estonian on the spot is not really an option for now, maybe later in life - who knows. As I have a friend living in Tallin - who has read books by Ristikivi for which I am a tiny bit jealous - I might even have someone to teach me.

    Right now I dont have the time to read the whole thread, would surely answer some questions but I will do in the evening. Thanx in advance for whatever reply you may give.

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    Yes, that is quite correct, Nightwood. If I find a publisher, I will announce it here on the WLF. But I have no intention of publishing a whole novel on the internet. When you've translated about 200 pages, you wouldn't mind a bit of money by way of recompense. How many teachers, brain surgeons, or prostitutes, bank managers, champion footballers, or street-vendors, do their work for nothing?

    There is a tendency nowadays to move over from vanity publishing in print to vanity publishing on the internet. I'm quite happy to do a few poems for nothing, or the odd short-story or essay. But those who oppose music piracy for already stinking rich pop musicians on the internet should have a heart for impoverished writers and translators. Just because entertainment and culture is consumed in many people's free time, doesn't mean that artistic people should produce things to be given away.

    ***

    As for learrning Estonian, make sure you know what you're letting yourself in for. Estonian is only easy if you already know Finnish. It is easyish if you know Hungarian, Basque, Turkish, or other languages that operate in roughly the same way. But remember that being able to read a newspaper article does not equip you to read a novel. You either have to learn the language seriously, or read a translation.

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Karl Ristikivi

    I dont have any intentions to read a novel online, I read books. So no suggestions from my side you should do it for love.

    Well, I do read more or less succesful Czech with a little time on my hands - my speaking skills are another matter - and some very minor Polish. Guess that doesnt really help me but as I have said before, if I ever start language classes in Estonian I won´ t do it right away and then only to be able to read it. Finnish might be another choice of mine but until now I have to rely on translations or German which is my mother tongue. But yes, I have heard Estonian and can identify it when I see it written down but of course that doesnt mean I really know in what kind of a mess I might find myself when trying to learn it.

    Will get back to this thread after I have read everything but I have to say already Thank You Eric for the answer.

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