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May. 8th, 2008 03:57 pm
wolfsmilk: (Default)
[personal profile] wolfsmilk
"You fool, marriage is now out of the question!" said K. When he put it to me that way, I had to agree with him.

"Why didn't you write to me earlier?" K asked angrily. But it was K who had sent absolutely no response to my first letter. I didn't think that I was the one at fault.

Raising his voice, K finally shouted, "I wish you had run away!" This made me cry. K just didn't understand. If I had run away, I would have gotten lost.

"Go ahead and cry," said K, circling around me. "You didn't take care of yourself, so you can't understand my feelings one bit. I'll tell you one thing, though; a dog can't take his own life, but a person can. If you can't understand that much, just keep on whimpering like a dog."

I wondered if I really was whimpering like a dog, which worried me so much, I stopped automatically. After I had stopped crying, I looked up and saw that K had left, and in the place he had been sitting was a small bottle of sleeping pills.

I felt that K had turned into a bottle of sleeping pills and was telling me to go ahead and die. This thought calmed me and suddenly I did want to die. I started by taking ten tablets, but three or four minutes later became terribly frightened and gulped down the rest. Feeling as though I were a post being pounded by a mallet, I fell into a deep sleep.

Date: 2008-05-09 02:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fingersweep.livejournal.com
Adultery? The bottle of drugs is interesting (the Roman way of sending daggers or poisons to the condemned individual to encourage suicide). Is it Japanese? They're probably closer in spirit to the Romans than any other modern people.

He didn't draw a line in the sand, though. That's the only way to transcend this stuff, stop being a pasty-faced prude, etc. I mean, just the thought of the possibility of forgiveness is miraculous: it's the other side of morality.

Maybe it's not adultery?

t.l.d.r.

Date: 2008-05-09 03:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skopparakringla.livejournal.com
It is Japanese (Kobo Abe, "Song of a Dead Girl") and it's never very clear what happened; this is actually the very beginning of the story, and the rest of it is narrated by the woman after she is dead. There are some hints that she was forced to resign from her job as a factory worker, and that may have been the cause of K.'s anger.

Your mention of the Roman encouragement of suicide is interesting; I'm reminded of a short story I read recently by Mishima - "Patriotism" - which the most beautiful / hideous / bizarre gore I've ever slogged through; a soldier after World War II returns home, makes love to his wife, and then commits ritual suicide with her aid, and she then follows suit. This is stretched out over twenty pages (the suicide part.) Though I don't know much about the Romans. Actually, on a slightly related note, I was planning my summer reading the other day and it's funny - Genji and the Iliad. Ha!

Also - I've been asking around, but have not been able to find any satisfactory answers as yet. Would you happen to know which translation of the Odyssey Faulkner was quoting from when he said that his source for the title of As I Lay Dying was from Agamemnon's speech to Odysseus, in Book VI: "As I lay dying the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyelids for me as I descended into Hades." It would have to be a pre-1930s translation. I know it's a long shot, but I figured I would ask, as I've only been turning up dead ends on google, in Bard's library, etc.

Re: t.l.d.r.

Date: 2008-05-09 05:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fingersweep.livejournal.com
Have you seen these (http://www2.library.tohoku.ac.jp/kano/09-000910/09-000910.html)?
What I would think of as gruesome would probably be called "precise" by Japanese convention.
(Yeah, I'm still waiting on Genji; if I don't go to Greece, I'll definitely have time.)

About the quote, I wouldn't be surprised if Faulkner had translated it himself. I'll look for it in the library tomorrow, though.

Re: t.l.d.r.

Date: 2008-05-10 08:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fingersweep.livejournal.com
Here are some translations I found, more interesting than useful:

"And I sought to raise my hands and smite down the murderess, dying though I was, pierced through with the sword. But she, the shameless one, turned her back upon me, and even though I was going to the house of Hades deigned neither to draw down my eyelids with her fingers nor to close my mouth."
-A.T. Murray, 1927

"I lay dying upon the earth with the sword in my body, and raised my hands to kill the slut of a murderess, but she slipped away from me; she would not even close my lips nor my eyes when I was dying..."
-Samuel Butler, 1900

"Then I strove to raise my hands as I was dying upon the sword, but to earth they fell. And that shameless one turned her back upon me, and had not the heart to draw down my eyelids with her fingers nor to close my mouth."
-Butcher & Lang, late 19th century

"Expiring as I lay, I yet essay’d
To grasp my faulchion, but the trayt’ress quick
Withdrew herself, nor would vouchsafe to close
My languid eyes, or prop my drooping chin
Ev’n in the moment when I sought the shades."
-William Cowper, 1791

"Then though pale death froze cold in every vein,
My sword I strive to wield, but strive in vain;
Nor did my traitress wife these eyelids close,
Or decently in death my limbs compose."
-Pope, 1725

"...[U]p my hands I threw
From earth to heaven, and tumbling on my sword,
Gave wretched life up -- when the most abhord
By all her sexe's shame forsooke the roome,
Nor daind (though then so neare this heavie home)
To shut my lips, or close my broken eies."
-Chapman, 1612

There are some translations I haven't looked at yet (eg. John Mackail (1903-10), Arthur Way (1880), William C. Bryant (1871), William Sotheby (1834), Thomas Hobbes (1675), and John Ogelsby (1656)). At this point, though, I'm definitely leaning toward Faulkner's being the culprit.

I looked at the Greek as well. What everyone likes to translate as that "shameless ... brazen, whorish, sluttish etc. ... woman", is literally "dog-eyed woman": kunôpis. Or, de kunôpis, "but she the dog-eyed one." Here we're compelled to think "What does it mean that she is dog-eyed?" It's a rarely used word:

Achilles calls Agamemnon a "kunôpês" (the masc. form) when they're arguing about the C. & B. girls in book 1 of the Iliad;

Helen refers to herself as a dog-face for causing the Trojan war, when she's talking with Menelaos during book 4 of the Odyssey (Telemachos' visit);

and there were several others I found as well, all used pejoratively.

Re: t.l.d.r.

Date: 2008-05-14 02:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skopparakringla.livejournal.com
Wow. Thank you so much for your research! The translations are definitely interesting, as is your information on the original Greek...I wonder how much of this sort of effort goes into the new translations that are put out, or if the translators generally try and start from scratch. In any case...this information helps a lot.

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