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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Inspiring Comedic Vacations

In Vacationing with Goodman Brown, a vacation to New England was in the works. We found personal inspiration from the breathtaking beauty and literary destinations of the likes of Nathanial Hawthorne. But spur-of-the-moment jumping on the plane is becoming increasingly more difficult with regulations and pat downs. Many of us prefer the “stay-cations” of our backyards just to avoid the hassle. Especially during long summer months, literature offers an escape and is often a “vacation” from reality and a comedic release.

Patricia Lockwood, a contributing author and poet whose poetry appeared in issue #47 and #48 (and forthcoming in #49!), cites that her source of inspiration for writing was not something impressive like the Bible of Ulysses. But rather Jack Handy’s Deep Thoughts.
I alone seemed to understand that this was dangerous: if you read this book in the bathroom, I believed, the power of its insights would send your pee back up inside you. The Deep Thoughts themselves were … sentences? Except I thought I knew what a sentence was, and these were different: "The tiger can't change his spots. No, wait, he did! Good for him!" "Whoa God that is fancy," I breathed to myself. "How did he do it?" I read them over and over to the point of obsession, trying to figure out how they worked. It was the first time I realized that you were allowed to do whatever you wanted. Anything could happen and anything could happen next.
However, a vacation that is inspired from this is not a journey that you need to book far in advance, rather all you need is a computer. Head online and check out how one author’s form of “weird” inspiration has spiraled down to all levels and even was transformed into an SNL skit and other parodies.

A second type of literary vacation other than comedic escape is choosing to immerse yourself in a completely foreign country where the language and culture is completely different. Author E.C. Belli does this just as a profession. His translations allow the reader to encounter the foreign and through that, explore a whole new world of literature. His works appear in HFR issue # 48. Belli sights Victor Hugo as a main source of inspiration for his translations and the need to share the beauty of Hugo’s work with his family.
Victor Hugo was also at the root of my interest in translation. His poems being so beautiful, and my wanting so badly to share them with the British side of my family who did not speak French, specifically my grandmother, I would find myself doing line by line translations, and from the age of ten on, stood rambling in the living room, trying to capture the “terrible crystals,” as my teacher Lucie Brock-Broido calls them, that make these poems so tragically beautiful. I almost always failed but when I was able to grasp even one of his “pure notions” (to borrow language from Mallarm√©) and clothe it in the adequate, corresponding English vernacular, I’d feel the most intense satisfaction. This never lasted long unfortunately, as the next line proved impossible again. Through that process however, I learned to be comfortable in the eternal imperfection of translation while remaining convinced that it was also the most essential thing.
Thankfully Belli’s work is that of beautiful translations, but this is not always the case. Whether journeying abroad or reading a work that has been translated from its original language, you must always be careful that the real meaning is being conveyed. Unfortunately, these translations were not done as carefully and precisely. Hopefully no injuries occurred!

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