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feb 18, 2011, 11:36 pm

I'm reading Rubicon by Agnar Mykle. It is a Norwegian novel but not being able to actually read Norwegian, I am reading a translation. It's a wonderful book, I'm enjoying it very much but I stumbled upon this paragraph and was puzzled:

"Suddenly he couldn't remember having seen anyone in German people. Perhaps they had quietly emigrated to shoes."

To shoes?! How does one emigrate to shoes? Is it painful? Messy? Difficult? Is that how the Old Woman got there?

feb 20, 2011, 10:08 pm

I love that line. I may have to read the book to see how one emigrates to shoes. Sounds like your translation is faulty.

feb 20, 2011, 11:00 pm

I don't know if it's the translation or just bad copy editing. I just read one paragraph that had the same segment of sentence twice! The first appearance made absolutely no sense, but it showed up in the next sentence, where it obviously belonged, and it made perfect sense. I would love to get the Norwegian version and make my brother, who can actually read Norwegian, read it so I can find out where the narrator imagined all the Germans emigrated to.

feb 20, 2011, 11:17 pm

"emigrated to other shores"? Maybe? Sounds like its both bad translation and bad editing.

feb 21, 2011, 9:31 am

That's a very plausible theory, mejix. That would make slightly more sense. I just read another book, Job by Austrian writer Joseph Roth and it had some of the same things, sentence fragments in weird places. I read a lot of translated work and I actually don't run into that kind of thing very often but the last two have been riddled with them. It just goes show that the right translator and the right edition can have a lot to do with the quality of the work.

feb 21, 2011, 9:51 am

I had an ARC with some typos in it and one was just hilarious - he was hidden under a pile of quits.

mar 21, 2011, 7:30 pm

I don't read Norwegian very well, and rely on Google translations when perusing Aftenposten, from Oslo. However, computer translations can often be more mysterious than struggling through the original Norsk, which has much in common with the German and English languages.

As for your peculiar paragraph .... allow me to suggest:

"Suddenly he couldn't remember seeing any Germans. Perhaps they had quietly emigrated to other shores."