The book's title contains several competing allusions that make it difficult for a translator to convey all at the same time. How would you translate "Twelve Stories of Russia: A novel, I guess"? Which elements of the original title would be preserved in your translation and which would be lost? Why would you prioritize your decision in this way?
The opening passage of Twelve Stories (Book 1, Section 1) is disorienting and presents specific challenges for a translator. How would you translate these initial paragraphs to convey your understanding of the tone, voice and style of the original?view the pdf
In this passage (Book 6, Section 6) the author uses English grammar - specifically articles - to differentiate the characters' speech. How would you render this scene into Russian?view the pdf
Throughout Twelve Stories the concept of "alienation" is exploited to create a humorous and disorienting effect: converting common Russian phrases literally (or liberally) into foreign-sounding English makes the familiar unrecognizable and contributes to the sense of the narrator's "otherness" and estrangement. Though re-translating these phrases back into their native (Russian) equivalents would make perfect sense, this approach will likely undermine the strangeness that is so important to the English text. How would you resolve this dilemma as seen in the following passages?
In Book 6 two parallel plot lines come together in the form of conflicting English verb tenses. This toggling, which in the cited passage even occurs within a single sentence, is highly unusual in English syntax; here the rigidity of English verb tense has been used to further the scene's rhetorical purpose. With this purpose in mind, how would you translate this excerpt (Book 6, Section 50) to convey the important grammatical juxtaposition?view the pdf
Word play is an important feature of Twelve Stories, as can be seen in the following vignette (Book 10, Section 19) written in both languages. How would you translate this section? What, if anything, is lost in the translation?view the pdf
Twelve Stories places a heavy emphasis on the role of individual words in the text. An example can be seen in the pairing of thick and hard to connote a meaning that recurs and evolves over the course of the novel. With an eye on these two words, how might you render each in the specific contexts shown below? What two corresponding words would you use? How successfully does your solution preserve both the literal meaning in a given scene AND the figurative connection (and resonance) across the different scenes?
The author has claimed that Twelve Stories was an attempt to reconcile, in contemporary English-language prose, the respective literary styles of Daniil Kharms and Lev Tolstoy. Citing specific examples from the book, please discuss the success or failure of this endeavor in the context of other English-language literary works having the same goal.
How would you translate this poem and ensuing reaction?view the pdf
What strategy would you use to indicate the "Eleven Yellow Words" as they are discovered by the narrator over the course of the novel? How can they be delineated in the text in a way that neither hides nor reveals them while also supporting the novel's themes?
One of the main challenges in translating Twelve Stories as a cohesive work is the high interconnectedness of the novel's various elements; often a solution that might work well locally (i.e., within a single scene) will not be viable in other contexts over the course of the novel as a whole; oppositely, a global solution might cause the potency of individual scenes to be lost. What are some strategies that you would use to preserve the text's linguistic and thematic cohesiveness? If you were tasked with translating the entire novel, how would you organize the logistics of the translation process to facilitate your work?
How would you translate the first word of the book? How would you translate the last word?