Transposition: Modification of Form

In the now completed transposition of The Nose by Gogol, we encounter multiple instances where the form has been adapted. Against the assumptions informing a transposition from nineteenth-century Russian to twenty-first century English, it is necessary to consider the current American reader's frame of reference. With regard to form, this is the universally applied construction of

subject - verb - object or subject - predicate

 but interspersed in literary fiction with discourse and questions to conceal its monotony.

In the first draft of the transposition, we had a good example of blatent monotony, which even two paragraphs couldn't conceal:


...At one point, she had actually got rid of it, but a school crossing guard pointed from afar: “Maam!” You dropped something!” – And Michele had to retrieve the nose and hide it in her pocket. Despair gripped her, all the more so because the number of people on the street steadily increased as the stores and delis began to open.
            She decided to go to the Brooklyn Bridge where she would be able to toss it in the East River... 

The sentence in bold typeface, the third one ostensibly reading subject-verb-object or the fourth if you include the dependent clause "all the more so..." or the fifth, sixth, seventh if you trace back even further, - this reduces the form of the work to an inferior position relative to the content. Form solely serves content, whereas, at least in the classics and in peripateticism, there is tension between form and content. One could ask whether the Russian original contains this structure, and while, yes, the last two sentences of the first paragraph and the aforementioned sentence in bold typeface do contain subject-predicate-object constructions, the dependent clause and the preceding sentences have a different sentence structure.

In order not to make the form subservient to the content, the transposition must be modified in one of these places. Ultimately the sentence in bold typeface assumed a different form than its original: 

The Brooklyn Bridge? It seemed likely she would be able to toss the bag in the East River there...


As a translator, I would not depart from the original to this extent. As a transposer it is perfectly within the bounds of the assumptions in this type to do so. One of those assumptions, for example, is that the author has been transplanted into a new socio-linguistic realm, but retained his or her mindset. He or she is composing an original in English in the twenty-first century as opposed to Russian in the nineteenth century. In the linguistic framework of English, you do not subordinate form to content in literary fiction. As a translator, however, especially due to the influence of the "literal school", faithfulness to the original is of paramount importance.


Further reading:

Transposition: Persuasion and Dead Souls in Twenty-first Century America
Transposition: More examples 
Transposition: Excerpt 
Transposition: The Nose by Nikolai Gogol in Twenty-first Century America 
Novel DSP: Jacket Synopsis 
A Brief Explanation of Transposition 



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