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  • E. Novickas

My, oh my

I’m afraid recent events are, as usual, intruding upon the subject of translation, or is it the other way around? But how could you possibly find a more apropos book to be translating in the year of Trump than Sun-Tzu? Here I offer up a paragraph from the chapter on Minister Mureika. See if you don’t agree:

"He resembled a giant plastic bag filled with sticky starch paste. That bag was bizarrely twisted and had a multitude of nooks, weirdly similar to human body parts. He was even expertly painted in the color of a human body. In the dimness you could even be fooled into taking that bag, widening at the bottom, for a human being. A tall, sturdy man with clumsy paws and giant, clean buttocks. The man who first called officials the Great Buttocks had undoubtedly seen Mureika in a dream...

...He gave off the smell of the starch paste that filled him. He could splash himself with some suitable toilet water, but he couldn’t hide that smell—at least not from me. To me he seemed like a large and disgusting secret of nature. I always wanted to comprehend him, rummage around in his guts and research his structure. But I was afraid that nothing but fatty, thick starch paste would ooze out of him. It seemed hideously disgusting to get my hands soiled with him."

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Coming across new vocabulary is one of the great pleasures of translating, and I can’t help but share my delight in coming across the word srėbtuvė. A bit of explanation: the ending -tuvė is often use

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