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Narcissus and Goldmund (Peter Owen Modern Classics) Paperback – 6 Jul 2006
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A novel that dramatises Nietzsche's conception of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. At the medieval monastery of Mariabronn, the restless Goldmund realises he isn't cut out for a cloistered life under the tutelage of his friend and mentor, the ascetic Narziss, and so begins a series of travels that see him work his way through most of the seven deadly sins before finding a psychic resolution of sorts in an apprenticeship to a master sculptor. Only by feeding his appetite for worldly experience does Goldmund finally find the courage to face death. --The Guardian 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read
His greatest novel --New York Times
One of his masterpieces . . . without doubt a great novel --Observer
About the Author
Counted among the leading thinkers of the twentieth century, HERMANN HESSE was born in 1877. Rebelling against a stern monastic education, he worked as a locksmith and a bookseller before embarking on a 65-year writing career. Having travelled as far as India, he settled in Switzerland in 1911 in opposition to German militarism. Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1946, he died in 1963 aged eighty-five.
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I am about to read Narziss again and am weighing up these two translations. I can’t say I remember it that well in order to compare how a new translation would favour. Part of me says Dunlopp is probably the best as he is of Hesse’s time, they would thus share a more common literary world. Some people state older translations can tend towards being stuffy, I don’t agree with this. Usually the great translations that have become classics in English stand the test of time, examples being the Maude translations of Tolstoy and Moncrieff’s and Kilmartin’s Proust. I recently read a ‘fresh, new’ (American) translation of Madame Bovary and I had to put it down, the style was off-putting and too overtly American for its content. There are some translations that are so poor they destroy any chance of the book being appreciated in other languages.
But the Leila Vennewitz translation of Narziss (or Narcissus!) is highly regarded. I have compared corresponding paragraphs, and was surprised at how much they differ. Taking the first paragraph, what Dunlopp treats as one sentence, Vennewitz divides into more sentences. The main words all seem to correspond, so the general meaning all seems to be retained. The flow and style are both good. How the two styles progress cumulatively I would have to read more to discover and if I have to do that it can’t differ that much.
Then I looked at the beginning of Chapter three, paragraph one, a sentence, Dunlopp translates: ‘To him all was thought, even love.’ Leila Vennewitz translates as ‘To him all was spirit, including love; . . .’ Well, here, I think there is quite a difference in meaning, this is exactly what I didn’t want to find and I would have to go to the original German to discover more.
I’m interested if anybody has a preference between these two translations?
With the Amazon reviews they often have reviews included for other editions translated by a separate translator. I noticed this because for one edition a reviewer described the cover and I thought well that corresponds to a separate edition with a different translator.
It’s worth googling (Owen Witesman + Narziss). He writes a good article on translation, On the Rocky Road to a Good Translation; there are some interesting responses, particularly one by David (though his name isn’t stated in the thread) who compares Dunlopp’s (superior) translation to Ursule Molinaro word for word.
Another amazing work of art, which I have come to expect of Hesse.
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