Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis won by Sharon Dodua Atoo

The bizarre Ingeborg Bachmann prize for literature has been won by Sharon Dodua Atoo, a black Germanist, mother and activist who has lived in Berlin for 24 years – see Philip Oltermann article in the Guardian. A couple of years ago the texts of the candidates were translated into English, but not this time. The reading, discussion and text, and a video about the author, can be found on the Klagenfurt prize website. She normally writes in English.
Here is more from Sharon Dodua Atoo’s website.

#barristerpoetry

A hashtag invented by Sean Jones QC of 11 Kings Bench Walk is doing the rounds, according to Legal Cheek. Lawyers try their hand at law-themed poetry, with hilarious results – from the comments there:

The general idea is to take the beginning of a famous poem and then add the bathos of legal vocabulary.

Sean Jones
‏@seanjonesqc

I was much further out than you thought.
And not waiving but accepting the repudiation.
#barristerpoetry

Philip
‏@Psychonaut99

My instructing solicitors
Have not provided me with
Those papers,
Your Honour. I cannot…
Oh.
Here they are
#barristerpoetry

But some rhyme:

Keith Rooney
‏@KeithJRooney

The barrister bemoaned his witness as a silent interlocutor, the judge opined he could just rely on res ipsa locquitur #barristerpoetry
12:00 PM – 18 May 2016

KCL German play

King’s College German Play, Der Besuch der alten Dame (The Visit), had its first night on 7 March and there is another performance on 11 March. I saw it with another former King’s student. Everything has changed since the late sixties. The students are a mix of nationalities and subjects – European Studies, European Politics, War Studies, Comparative literature. It was an excellent production with great pace. It really was over in 2 hours so they must have cut quite a bit; the play is rather wordy. Some of the students speak very fluent German.

There are English surtitles – actually a block of text from a translated version of the play. Obviously it had to be cut to the right length, but was it a published version or done by the students themselves? I saw this with Nathan der Weise in Berlin, where they had a rather aged English translation.

The play was on in a place called Tutu’s on the 4th floor of the Macadam Building in Surrey Street. It was dreadfully cold there! The performance used projected images and sound effects – for instance the trains passing through at the beginning – and few props (I missed the coffin, but it wouldn’t have worked here). Desmond Tutu is an alumnus and a rather weird sculpture of his head is above the door:

IMG_5619

We went in memory of the plays we remembered from our own time as students, shockingly 50 years ago. I remember Biedermann und die Brandstifter in 1966 and Minna von Barnhelm in 1967. The current offering is an old chestnut too. But it’s still being performed in the real world and you can see video clips from Bochum, Zurich, and Berlin online (probably there are more out there too).

The KCL version is on a bare stage – here are some photos I stole from the KCL German Society Twitter feed:

kclCc-sElsWEAE3CQJ

kclCbh-4B6W8AUwW7W

The courts and language, and Harry Potter

The Trademark and Copyright Law Blog has – or had a few weeks ago – a post on all the court cases relating to Harry Potter – Harry Potter Lawsuits and Where to Find Them, for example:

Smith v. Rowling. In 2010, Elijah Smith brought a pro se claim against Rowling in the Eastern District of California. The allegation was simple: “I’m the author who write Harry Potter. . .” As to the relief sought, Mr. Smith stated:

Mrs. J.K. Rowling will make a great teacher . . . I’ll be gladly to help Mrs. J.K. Rowling after she pay me $18 billion.

Mr. Smith’s complaint was dismissed shortly after it was brought, and his request to proceed in forma pauperis was denied. Mr. Smith, who at the time the complaint was filed resided in a California state prison, has brought similar claims against Michael Jackson, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dog and Sam Cooke.

(via Law and Magic Blog)

And Mark Liberman at Language Log links to an article on a court being invited to consider corpus linguistics in deciding the meaning of a term (to discharge a weapon), although perhaps the right judge did not win the argument: “Linguists have a name for this kind of analysis” . The linked article is by Gordon Smith in the Conglomerate: Corpus Linguistics in the Courts (Again).

People in East London: Dora Diamant et al.

doradiamant

Dora Diamant (originally Polish, name Dymant) lived with Franz Kafka in the last six months of his life, when he was dying of tuberculosis. It is said of her that he died in her arms and she burnt (some of) his work. She met him in July 1923 and he died in June 1924. She later married Lutz Lask and had a daughter. After 1939 she was interned as an enemy alien and later ran a restaurant and theatre in Brick Lane. She died in East London at the age of 54. She is buried in the East Ham (Marlow Road) Jewish Cemetery, originally in an unmarked grave. Kathi Diamant, no relation, became interested in her and wrote a book summarizing her research, Kafka’s Last Love. The Mystery of Dora Diamant, 2003.

Other famous graves: Ted Kid Lewis:

kidlewis

and a Jack the Ripper suspect:

kozminski

More information from the cemetery staff, who sometimes sit on these chairs but don’t want their picture taken:

chairs

Before decimal currency – Dickens translation/Probleme vor der Dezimalwährung

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, chapter 12, Mr Micawber:

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

Fürther Nachrichten, and possibly the German translation of Dickens – this comment on the financial crisis puzzled me in the daily paper:

Jährliches Einkommen zwanzig Pfund, jährliche Ausgaben neunzehn Pfund und sechs Schillinge, Resultat Glück. Jährliches Einkommen zwanzig Pfund, jährliche Ausgaben zwanzig Pfund und sechs Schillinge, Resultat Elend.

No, Projekt Gutenberg has a better translation – presumably done before 1971 – the foreword is dated March 1909:

Jährliches Einkommen 20 Pfund. Jährliche Ausgabe 19 Pfund 19 Schilling 6 Pence. Fazit: Wohlstand. Jährliches Einkommen 20 Pfund. Jährliche Ausgabe 20 Pfund und 6 Pence. Fazit: Dürftigkeit.

Ingeborg Bachmann prize/Preis

Yet again I was too busy to digest the Bachmann prize contenders’ texts in advance and come to my own conclusion. Every time I switched on or played back, the texts seemed rather pedestrian and descriptive. The NZZ referred to belangloser Realismus, which seemed right (links in Perlentaucher).

I liked the winning entry by Tilman Rammstedt a lot, but perhaps it won by default. It was notable that only men won prizes, although probably justified in this case. I had the chance of listening to it live, but the reading was dreadfully fast and irritating.

As mentioned before, the texts can be read in English (and other languages) this year. Here’s the winning one.

So what translators did they choose? Only two into English: Martin Chalmers, who has translated Jelinek, Kluge, Enzensberger, Klemperer and more, and Stefan Tobler, who translates from German and Portuguese.

I can’t say I’ve spent long reading the translations, and what I have seened looked OK – in any case, the texts are not of the most demanding kind. But my suspicions were aroused by the translation of Wissenschaft as science at the beginning of the text by Dagrun Hintze (I would have chosen the adjectives academic or scholarly for wissenschaftlich).

Du hast vergessen, wie man das auseinander hält, Definition für Definition, aber wundern kann dich das nicht, mit der Wissenschaft gab es von Anfang an diese Schwierigkeit, dieses Fehlverhalten auf deiner Seite, weißt du noch, der Dozent in Bart und Sandalen, gleich unter die erste Hausarbeit nur ein Satz, dafür in Rot, dein erstes präzis formuliertes, scharlachfarbenes Waterloo: Das ist kein wissenschaftliches Arbeiten. Du hingegen hattest gedacht, der Text würde leuchten, als Beispiel, und so verflucht viel Brillanz bei einer Erstsemesterin, stattdessen dieser scharlachfarbene Satz, du hast zwei Wochen zu Hause gelegen, geheult, den Dozenten dann nicht mehr gegrüßt, das Seminar penibel geschwänzt, als ob das irgendwas nützte.

You have forgotten how to distinguish between things, definition by definition, but that shouldn’t surprise you, you always had this difficulty with science right from the start, this abnormal behaviour, do you remember the bearded, sandal-wearing lecturer, just one sentence at the bottom of your first essay, but in red, your first, precisely formulated, scarlet Waterloo: This is not a scientific approach. You, however, had thought that the text shone, was a beacon, for a first semester student so damned full of brilliance, instead that scarlet sentence, you lay at home for two weeks, you wailed, then didn’t ever say hello to the lecturer again, embarrassingly you skived the seminar, as if that helped.

I’m not sure who’s going to be reading these translations. Perhaps it will start with the Goethe Institutes. Perhaps Klagenfurt has a broader competition in mind in future – an amazing and probably doomed idea.

Don Dahlmann links to a list (German) of tips on how to win and how to lose the competition – I’m not sure of their origin (the ‘open mike’ recommendation didn’t work this time:

Pluspunkte:
Autorenporträt und Textform:
1. Lastenausgleich: Autor hat nicht in der NVA gedient
2. Lastenausgleich: Autor ist kein junges Mädchen
3. Lastenausgleich: Autor hat am Leipziger Literaturinstitut studiert
4. schnörkelloser Lebenslauf ohne Preise, ohne Aufenthalte, ohne Hobbys (“Schreiben”, “Breakdance”, “Leichenwaschen”)
5. Gute Typo
6. Autor ist Träger interessanter Preise (Stipendium der Raketenstation Hombroich, Walter-Fick-Preis)
7. Keine “open mike”-Teilnahme / Teilnahme wird im Lebenslauf verschwiegen

Minuspunkte:
Autorenporträt und Textform:

1. Multiple Wohnorte in der Biografie (jeder Wohnort > 1 bringt einen Minuspunkt)
2. Hand im Gesicht auf dem Autorenfoto
3. Lastenausgleich: Autor sieht außergewöhnlich gut aus
4. Brücken, Flüsse, Seen, Ufer im Autorenporträt
5. Bahnhöfe, Züge, Gleise, Bahnsteige, Flughäfen im Autorenporträt
6. Rolltreppen, Rollbänder, Aufzüge, Großaufnahme gehender Füße im Autorenporträt
7. Bücherregale im Autorenporträt

Best literary translations of 2007 / Beste Literaturübersetzungen ins Englische 2007

three percent, a ‘Resource for international literature at the University of Rochester’ (links, weblog, translation program), has published a longlist of the best literary translations in 2007. Not much German, but Der Gehilfe by Robert Walser could be fun.

Here’s the analysis.

Twenty-one languages are represented on the list, with French (11 books or 22%) being the most, Spanish (10, 20%) in second, and German (4), Russian (4), and Japanese (3) rounding out the top five. Two titles from both Arabic and Hebrew made the list, and the following languages each had one title: Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Flemish, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Nepali, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Romanian, and Turkish. Overall, a pretty nice balance.

(Thanks to Trevor)

Harry Potter leak / Strafbarkeit der Verbreitung des neuen Harry Potter

The Times online (via Boing Boing) reports that it may be possible to trace the person who leaked the Harry Potter book in photos on the Web yesterday (the publisher, Bloomsbury, won’t confirm that this was genuine, presumably as a damage limitation exercise). The serial number of the camera is part of the EXIF data, and if the camera, an early Digital Rebel, has been repaired or registered, the number will be linked to a name.

However, there would probably be no criminal charges, as there was no commercial gain. Civil damages would be based on the loss in book sales.

If traced, the person who photographed the Harry Potter novel could be found guilty of copyright infringement, but would be unlikely to face criminal charges as the photos appear not to have been published for commercial gain, lawyers said.
“There are criminal provisions in copyright legislation, but they tend to be used in cases of obvious counterfeiting – such as selling fake computer games or DVDs in a car boot sale,” Mark Owen, an intellectual property partner at the London firm Harbottle & Lewis, said. “If Bloomsbury were to pursue an action, it would more likely be a civil case, in which case any damages would be assessed according to the loss in book sales.”

The Times calls the EXIF numbers ‘digital DNA’!

Some EXIF data (bottom left) from a Sony DSC-H5 (click to enlarge).

screenshw.jpg

US bowdlerization of children’s book/Rotraut Susanne Berner und die USA

Pimmel_3_DW_Kultur__312406g.jpg

Something in this picture was too much for Boyds Mills Press in the USA. They wanted to publish a translation of Rotraut Susanne Berner’s children’s book, but without this picture and another picture of a nude, both exhibits in an art gallery. The author insisted on the censorship being made obvious, for example by the pictures being blacked out, so it seems the book is unlikely to appear. Die Welt writes:

Erst im Februar hatten US-Bibliotheken ein preisgekröntes Kinderbuch aus ihren Regalen verbannt, weil auf der ersten Seite das Wort „scrotum“ (Hodensack) vorkam. Zuvor geriet selbst „Harry Potter“ wegen angeblicher Bezüge zum Satanismus unter Beschuss der selbst ernannten Sittenwächter.

Author’s nude drawings too hot for US publisher, from the Independent.
Kein deutscher Mini-Penis für die USA, from Die Welt (with 4 illustrations).

LATER NOTE: for visitors from the Absolute Write Water Cooler, here’s the other offending picture:

Pimmel_1_DW_Kultur__312404g.jpg

This subject is generating as much traffic as my old entry on how IKEA names its furniture.