Poetry appreciation (was Re: Howl film)

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Wed Jun 29 07:42:28 EDT 2005

Minnow wrote:

> I vaguely remember Neil saying that HMC is one of his favourite DWJ
books... he had been reading HMC aloud to his
> daughter, and said that the best way to read it was aloud to someone,
> because that way you didn't ever miss anything out, whereas when reading
> oneself one may skip by accident.
> Proofing has the same effect, I find, and I'd suppose that translating
> too but rather more so if possible.

Yes, absolutely. Particularly when translating Diana's book, I realised how
sometimes she will use a single word to hint to a certain character or
concept that repeats itself in the book. This is done very subtly but in the
end turns out to be an important way of following the plot. For example, in
"Howl's Moving Castle", the word "craggy" relates to the Wizard Suliman;
every time "craggy" is used it has something to do with Suliman, even if
this is not immediately clear to begin with. "Craggy" is a rare word and
hard to translate, so it stuck out in translation a lot more than it would
in a casual reading. Likewise "strong-minded" for Lettie, "fine" for Mrs.
Pentstemmon (there's one sentence there that uses about five different
dictionary meaning of the word "fine", none of which are trivial to
translate) etc.

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