Seta

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Benjameno
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:15 pm

Seta

Post by Benjameno »

So, having finally graduated from my copy of the Easy Italian Reader, I am slowly delving into Italian literature. Having read and enjoyed immensely Alessandro Baricco's Novecento, I decided to pick up Seta, which I assumed would be similarly simple in terms of vocabulary. I was correct, but I was nevertheless somewhat discouraged when I read the first page and immediately encountered the following sentence:

"Benché suo padre avesse immaginato per lui un brillante avvenire nell'esercito, Hervé Joncour aveva finito per guadagnarsi da vivere con un mestiere insolito, cui non era estraneo, per singolare ironia, un tratto a tal punto amabile da tradire una vaga intonazione femminile."

This sentence struck me as somewhat convoluted; I am familiar with every word, yet cannot seem to grasp the meaning of the second half of the sentence.

"Although his father had imagined for him a brilliant future in the military, Hervé Joncour had ended up earning his daily bread in an uncommon trade... xxxxx UNCLEAR: .... which wasn't strange/foreign, by singular irony, a feature?/passage?/interval? to the point of being so loveable as to betray a slight feminine tone."

Most of the second half seems nonsensical to me- I'd appreciate it if anyone could shed some light on Baricco's meaning! Feel free to respond in English or Italian. :)
biagio
Posts: 117
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:29 am

Post by biagio »

Contrary to his father's wishes, Hervé ended up earning his daily bread in an uncommon trade which had something vaguely and ironically feminine in it.

That's the gist of it, more or less.

But you're right, the sentence is a little convoluted.
In fact, written Italian tends to be convoluted.
Benjameno
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:15 pm

Post by Benjameno »

So "cui non era estraneo, per singolare ironia, un tratto a tal punto amabile" means nothing, effectively? I should read only the parts surrounding it? :lol:
biagio
Posts: 117
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:29 am

Post by biagio »

Not really.
It is just that I cannot translate it properly...
biagio
Posts: 117
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:29 am

Post by biagio »

The relative "cui" refers to "mestiere": does this help you?
Benjameno
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:15 pm

Post by Benjameno »

Sono riuscito a trovare il primo capitolo online della traduzione inglese, in anteprima, e il traduttore non tenta neanche di rendere la frase in modo fedele all'originale; anzi riformula la frase intera. Quindi lascio stare, perché mi sembra una battaglia inutile. Comunque, grazie del tuo aiuto!
biagio
Posts: 117
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:29 am

Post by biagio »

Io lo imporrei come obbligo a tutti gli scrittori e aspiranti scrittori italiani: prova a tradurre quel che scrivi in inglese; se la cosa riesce, bene; se non riesce, vuol dire che hai scritto in maniera troppo complicata.

Quel traduttore lo capisco bene.

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