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The Library of Babel

A Spin-off of http://bookwormshead.blogspot.co.uk

Roy Jacobsen - Child Wonder

Child Wonder - Roy Jacobsen

Bought in the only actual bookshop (as I refuse to call the local branch of WH Smith a bookshop) of Abingdon-on-Thames out of fondness to support a laudable independent business.
And because I've got a fascination for bildungsroman novels set in poor pre-oil Oslo. Call it a hang-up.

Unfortunately, I should have known that Roy Jacobsen is no Jan Kjaerstad nor Lars Saabye Christensen.
Furthermore 'Child Wonder' suffers from a weird four-handed translation by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

What's the purpose of having two translators, I wonder? Especially considering how Mr Shaw's speciality is Danish (to the point he wrote a Danish-Thai-Danish dictionary!) and not Norwegian bokmaal.
I reckon how bokmaal itself is but an adaptation of written Danish with merely 106 years of history, but - for goodness' sake - it's not Danish. Nor Thai.

I don't know who's actually to blame for the mess they made with this book, but I'd like to discover who had the brilliant idea of NOT translating Mr, Mrs and Miss so that characters are called, say, herr Syversen and fru Amundsen.
Was that supposed to make one think of a play by Ibsen?
So why 'Uncle Bjarne' is not 'Onkel'? And 'Mother', 'Mor'? Lack of inspiration? Mere distraction?

My distant Norwegian memories shook, rattled and rolled when the butcher boys Don&Don called 'legendary restaurants' the sportsstue (literally 'sports lounge', technically cafes for skiers) of Sinober, Soerskauen and Lilloseter.
Really? I mean, we have a scene of anticipation for a Sunday ski-excursion in the forests of Lillomarka and later a working class kid in ski overalls swallowing waffles in a no-frills sportsstue and Don&Don chose the expression 'legendary restaurant' to define it.
Go check a better dictionary, guys; possibly not a Danish-Thai-Danish one.

Ah, and thank you to Don&Don for having left "the 1961 edition of 'Hvem, Hva, Hvor', an almanac" with its original Norwegian title. Which is, I am sure, extremely understandable for the standard Anglo-Saxon reader. Who? What? Where? May I add 'Hvorfor', why?

'Child Wonder' is no masterpiece, but nonetheless a decent novel which I would like to enjoy without frowning too much. It's a pity that I cannot rely on Don&Don in order to do that.
I hope Roy Jacobsen had the chance to have a look into this Frankenstein of a translation.