The fact that the Broken Sword 5 2.2 20th anniversary update added controller support (also in Linux) is pretty good news. It works ever so slightly better than the antimicro setup I was using to play. But one of the primary reasons it works better is that they’ve also fixed up keyboard support. You can now press up and down arrows like you always should’ve been able to. Meaning my previous antimicro setup works better as well, in spite of it having been made obsolete.
Archive for Media
Ah, it’s always nice to be greeted by a message of decay on a sunny Sunday morning.
Because IMDb’s message boards continue to be utilized by a small but passionate community of IMDb users, we announced our decision to disable our message boards on February 3, 2017 but will leave them open for two additional weeks so that users will have ample time to archive any message board content they’d like to keep for personal use.
Because of my annoyance with that cavalier turn of phrase about “ample time,” I’ll share an entry from my private Zim notebook.
Monday 16 Jan 2017
Something to keep in mind if IMDb ever goes bad.
Another potentially interesting website is Letterboxd.
It’s a pity that omdb isn’t the MusicBrainz of movies. The Movie DB looks like a more viable alternative with a possibly more usable website than recent IMDb to boot, but I’m not sure if it is as open. Still, you can use their API to scrape the entire DB. Note that The Movie DB is essentially a fork of 2008-era omdb data, as stated on older versions of their about page.
Last year I wrote a little about Gmail’s interesting attempt to translate English to English. Similar failures pop up from time to time, but usually I forget to take screenshots as evidence. This time I did.
A few weeks ago, while I was reading La vie: mode d’emploi, I came across a term I didn’t know. “La pièce où nous nous trouvons maintenant — un fumoir bibliothèque — est assez représentative de son travail.” (The room in which we find ourselves now — a fumoir bibliothèque — is fairly representative of her work. At the top of p. 134 in my copy.) Obviously a bibliothèque is a library, but I was a little less sure on the smoke-related part — fumer is to smoke. Ergo, in a brief moment of madness I decided to type the phrase into Google Translate rather than to look it up in my Aard version of Wiktionary or in Le Petit Robert.
Obviously it’s not a place to burn books, now is it? Wiktionary defines a fumoir (2) as a “Pièce qui, dans les appartements, dans les hôtels, dans les entreprises, est réservée aux fumeurs.” A room that, in apartments, in hotels, in enterprises is reserved to smokers. A smoking room. Ah, that makes more sense. But the titular joyous part refers to what happens when you change that automatic uppercase letter to a lowercase one.
Well, there you go. I’d say a smoking room with books or a smoking library is a distinction worth keeping, but statistics can sure do funny things.
Although the one-word sonnets are defended of being worthy of the name sonnet in the introduction I have some lingering doubts: sonnets have a great many rules, and here there’s only the rule of 14 words, one per line. Perhaps I’m the purist, who thinks that “le terme quatorzain, qui désigne de façon générale tout poème de quatorze vers, conviendrait mieux.” But no matter what you call these haiku-like intensely precise little poems, they’re quite good. The French translation is also outstanding. My favorites are “Sleep” (p. 58), “Substance Abuse” (p. 98) and “Anti-Semitism” (p. 112).
Seymour Mayne, Sabine Huynh (Translator) (2011). Ricochet : word sonnets = sonnets d’un mot. Freely available from http://www.oapen.org/search?identifier=515358.
The Great Gatsby is a terrific example of how a bunch of money-obsessed, vacuous, overall completely unsympathetic characters can still combine into an atmospheric, humorous, layered and meaningful piece of writing. Without the always present, borderline puerile ironic undertone this may well have been absolutely terrible. Minor spoilers follow.
Somehow I’d never read The Great Gatsby. Unfortunately it’s constantly and surprisingly ubiquitously referenced, and a few days ago an almost undoubtedly wrong, random Internet comment served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was claimed that in Gatsby’s library you could see he didn’t read his books because his bindings were intact. All that tells you is that a person is not an animal. What must’ve evidently been meant is that the pages were uncut, still held together in their signatures. To see an uncut book is a rarity these days, though I find that in my own century-old books often the first few pages remain uncut. In any event, my suspicions were quickly confirmed. Gatsby hadn’t cut his pages, but not a peep about the bindings.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Guy Reynolds (foreword) (2001). The Great Gatsby.
Van den vos Reynaerde has it all: deception, conflict, sarcasm, violence, (homosexual) innuendo, parody, and black humor. To top it off, it’s even featured on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum — the Papal seal of quality.
Our hero in this epic is Reynaert, a wily fox. Surrounded by nobility and other animals that are lustful, voracious, miserly, and greedy, the basic moral of the story is that you can only be deceived if you’re greedy. The narrator always hints at or even tells you what the result of the next part of the story will be, but it’s all about the how, not the what.
This particular edition is very good. The introduction tells about the various Reynaert stories across Europe, and much more; the text itself seems to have the perfect amount of footnotes to make dictionary use unnecessary, unless you want to know more about the etymology of a word. Generally, though not always, the footnotes call out attention to similar words in e.g. German and English, when clarifying certain words that are no longer in use. The commentary on the text in the back gives much background information on why even seemingly innocent descriptions might carry meaning.
However, I suppose that you might want to try one of the translations into Modern Dutch, even if you’re a native speaker of Dutch, unless Middle Dutch interests you. For that purpose I hope that there’s an edition that puts the original text and the translation side by side.
F. Lulofs (ed.) (2001). Van den Vos Reynaerde.
I originally wrote this review on Goodreads on January 15, 2012.
The fashionable thing to do these days would probably be to write a graphic novel based on the epistolary contacts of the Huygens family. Heck, I’d read it. But Lisa Jardine shows that just plain good writing is more than enough to keep you glued to the pages in this page-turner essay collection about archival science. Yes, you read that right, and no, there’s no irony hidden between the lines. Download the open-access book right now (clickety-click) and read chapter 3: “Never Trust a Pirate: Christiaan Huygens’s Longitude Clocks.” You can thank me later.
The first and titular essay is perhaps the worst of the collection, which is not nearly as bad a thing as you might think. Consider, after all, that it was the first essay on which I based my decision to read the rest of the book. A bigger thematic outlier is the final essay, which essentially offers a theoretical framework. This book is a paragon of intimate yet in-depth, meticulously sourced writing. As a bonus you’re given all of the relevant transcriptions in appendices at the end. The only thing which I felt was somewhat lacking, if only in a footnote, was a discussion of the deeper intricacies of the languages used in letter writing. Obviously (courtly) French was in vogue at the time, and I know that you could show off your language skills and appropriate register, but I was still somewhat surprised to see that every quoted intra-familial letter seemed to be in French. To experts I suppose this is so self-evident that it’s not the least bit remarkable. One thing is clear after reading this volume: the North Sea was referred to as the Narrow Sea with reason. England and the Netherlands were closely linked indeed.
Lisa Jardine (2015), Temptation in the Archives. DOI: 10.14324/111.9781910634035.
As something of a cultural edifice in Belgium and a highly regarded poet in the Netherlands, Guido Gezelle should need little introduction. Yet perhaps Gezelle’s dynamic, melodic lyrical poetry from the 1850s deserves more international recognition for being ahead of its time. Some people even go so far as to disparage literature in Dutch, by saying that “Dutch poetry, whether from Flanders or the Netherlands, has a stronger claim to international appreciation than Dutch-language prose” (source, including a nice selection of some translated poems by a variety of authors). For the relevant time period of the the late nineteenth, early twentieth century they are probably not wrong. I can barely stand many a prose classic written in the period of roughly the 1880s to the 1910s myself, although when you compare it to the tedium of a George Eliot or a Thomas Hardy I’d be hard-pressed to say it’s any worse. The real question is, I suppose, whether Dutch literature of the time has anything as wonderful as Henry James.
The Gezelle vertaald anthology brings together some of Gezelle’s pearls, presented in the original Dutch as well as various translations in the neighboring languages of English, German, French… and Latin. An unfortunate shortcoming of this anthology, certainly for an international audience, is that the rights to the English translations by Christine D’haen and Paul Claes could not be secured, but a sampling of those can be found here. Incidentally, a fairly exhaustive list of translations in other languages can be found here, although unfortunately Flash is required.
Following is a list of some of my favorite translations included in this work. Keep in mind that this is not the same thing as a list of my favorite poems in Dutch.
- “Message des oiseaux” (Boodschap van de vogels), translated by Liliane Wouters, p. 38.
- “Besuch am Grab” (Bezoek bij ‘t graf), translated by Wolfgang Cordan, p. 55. Oddly enough, I don’t care for this one in Dutch at all. I’m not sure why it works for me in German, but apparently the perhaps even more than usual overt religiosity is not the problem.
- “Bien plus vaste que ma vue” (Hooger als mijn oogen dragen), translated by Jan Schepens, p. 59.
- “Cor tuum si patet” (Als de ziele luistert), translated by H. Vroom, p. 61. Admittedly my knowledge of Latin is rudimentary at best, but in spite of what I perceive as a loss in meaning — which could be mine to blame — I enjoy the interaction between the meter and the sounds.
- “Un vers courait dans ma prière” (Daar liep een dichtje in mijn gebed), translated by Jan Schepens, p. 62.
- “Weißt du, wie die Winde werden?” (Weet gij waar de wind geboren), translated by Wolfgang Cordan, p. 63.
- “Le nid de mésanges” (Het meezennestje), translated by Liliane Wouters, p. 74. The joy and soundplay of the original Dutch is wonderfully captured in the French translation by Liliane Wouters.
- “Le rossignol” (Waar zit die heldere zanger, dien), translated by Liliane Wouters, p. 98. It’s starting to become apparent that I regard Liliane Wouters’ translations highly.
- “Schnee” (Wintermuggen), translated by J. Decroos, p. 130. I might slightly prefer the German translation.
Tallying up, I would definitely recommend the translation by Liliane Wouters for speakers of French. I also quite enjoyed the selection of German translations by Jérôme Decroos, even though a few years ago I wasn’t particularly enchanted by his German translations of some of Hadewijch’s work in Niederländische Gedichte aus neun Jahrhunderten (1960, p. 43, 44 [Selections from songs 19 and 22]). In the following bibliography I’ll mark the translations I recommend based on my sampling in bold. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Johan Van Iseghem (ed.) (2003), Gezelle vertaald: een meertalige bloemlezing.
Sources of the mentioned translations
- Cordan, Wolfgang. Guido Gezelle. Rauschendes Ried. Eine Auswahl von Wolfgang Cordan. Oostende: Erel, 1973.
- Decroos, J. Guido Gezelle. Ausgewählte Gedichte. Paderborn: Verlag der Bonifacius-Druckerei, 1938.
- Schepens, Jan. Kleengedichtjes. Guido Gezelle. Petits poèmes, traduits par Jan Schepens. Oostende: Erel, 1973.
- Vroom, H. Centum Carmina quae composuit Guido Gezelle. Latinus versibus reddidit Dr. H. Vroom. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1967.
- Wouters, Liliane. Guido Gezelle. Un compagnon pour toutes les saisons. Choix, préface et traductions: Liliane Wouters. Editions Autres Temps & Liliane Wouters, 1999.
Other works mentioned
- Claes, Paul and Christine D’haen.The Evening and the Rose. Poems translated from the Flemish by by Paul Claes and Christine D’haen, Antwerpen: Guido Gezellegenootschap, 1989. – 115 + [I] p., 22 x 13 cm.
- Decroos, Jérôme. Niederländische Gedichte aus neun Jahrhunderten, Freiburg: Herder, 1960, 320 pp.
Les Levantins en leur légende
Disent qu’un certain Champignon las des soins d’ici-bas,
Dans un fromage de Hollande
Se retira loin du tracas.
La solitude était profonde,
S’étendant partout à la ronde.
Notre ermite nouveau subsistait là-dedans.
Il fit tant de pieds et de dents
Qu’en peu de jours il eut au fond de l’ermitage
Le vivre et le couvert : que faut-il davantage ?
Il devint gros et gras ; Dieu prodigue ses biens
A ceux qui font voeu d’être siens.
Il a continué de manger et de manger
Pas de pause, pas de rentrer.
Enfin, le résultat est ici,
Le Champignon est désormais fini.
PS Naturellement, c’est de La Fontaine.
PPS J’ai écrit ce post en avril, mais j’ai oublié de le publier.
Although I wanted to like it, The Circle disappointed me. This novel turns out to be a pastiche, a parody without the bite. The plot of the book is obvious from the onset, or at least within the first twenty pages or so. That may not be a bad thing, but the execution is little to write home about. Hypocritical, unsympathetic, two-dimensional everyman Mae represents someone who, after some initial prompting, completely buys into FaceGoogle — pardon, the Circle’s promise of connection. (The Circle acquired Google, Facebook, and a number of made-up companies, so they’re quite explicitly FaceGoogle++.) Perhaps the attack on the artificial type of connectedness is also the part of this book with the most teeth left: about how the illusion of living through others, through images and videos is just that (no matter how great it might be for those who are home-ridden). But you’d do better to read The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster from 1909 instead.
In spite of all that, the book has some amusing scenes. Near the end, the character with the role of the obnoxious, preachy voice of reason is being pursued by drones. As all the little flying nuisances are shouting about how they just want to be friends, the book ventured into proper satire. Had the book been more like that, showing the hilariously wrong consequences of the utopian proposals, I probably would’ve liked it a lot better. However, in the end there was too much fluff and too little of the good stuff.
Dave Eggers (2013), The Circle.