Jabberwocky in Nadsat




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And by “translated” we mean “wrote a completely different poem in the style of”.


но не очень хорошо.


Nicies, me droogs but still no candlestick on the real thingie [sorry, never learned the language]

хорошо (“horrorshow”) is the Russian for good, fine, OK. (My post just means"but not very good"). Burgess just borrowed Russian words and transliterated them a bit freely. (Russian doesn’t have a long “oo” vowel so “droog” falls into this class. The Russian vowel is more like the u in German Buch).

There was an influential group of British writers, including Michael Frayn, who learned Russian as part of military service to intercept Russian communications. Burgess doesn’t seem to have been one of them, but he learnt Russian at two stages in his life. He was apparently anxious to distance the Russian/English creole of A Clockwork Orange from “real” Russian, though.

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Very good! I am not often impressed with other people’s poetry. Only my own.

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I think that was the point. His characters aren’t Russian, they’re British, and he leaves unasked the question of why British kids would know a few words of Russian. Slang isn’t always linguistically pure. Cf: boo-coo.


I enjoyed this far too much. must be time to reread Clockwork.


Unasked, but answered extra-textually:

“And there was fine irony in the notion of a teenage race untouchable by politics, using totalitarian brutality as an end in itself, equipped with a dialect which drew on the two chief political languages of the age.” (source)

A briefer article at the Anthony Burgess Foundation includes the note that Burgess fought to keep glossaries out of the various editions, but that has not remained the case.


What do you mean it was dobby?

(Hat tip to James Thurber.)

Now do it in Vogon.


Parts of some English translations of the Bible are a bit like that. And don’t get me started on the Book of Mormon.

I followed it just fine. And even liked it a little.

For what it is, not for what it says it is, or especially for what I thought it said I should expect it to be

~peremptorily begins to gnaw off own leg~

Sic transit gloria mundi. Currently for real totalitarian brutality you need Arabic and Mandarin.

Oh, come now. I think English and Russian still have their uses in that field.

Did you reply to me by mistake? This doesn’t seem related to what I posted. I never said anything against the poem, for one thing.

how can you not follow what I quoted you as saying

all the way to ‘i could follow it’?

IUn addition to being able to follow it, which you seemingly could not, having stated that it was a completely different poem, i enjoyed it for what it is.

As though you expected the same poem.

An expectation which i think you gave yourself, as I don’t see anyone else saying you should expect it to be not completely different. As a translation might well be expected to be completely different wordwise, though generally the same in story and tone, but apparently that’s not a universal expectation, which may be my mistake in this.

So if you’re thinking it ought to be one thing, cool. I take things as they are; expectations are so many wasted neuron firings.

I’m still not clear why you think I couldn’t follow it or didn’t like it, unless you’re just scrambling for any available means of insult.

You appear to be arguing that a “translation” of a work can in fact be a completely different work in a similar style. Am I understanding you correctly?