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18 December 2005 @ 22:40
Død og pine  

And now, an arbitrarily selected item from the file containing some of my more obscure and questionable beliefs: Nora Helmer was the spiritual grandmother of punk rock.

Here's the evidence:

Nora: Ja nu er jeg riktignok umåtelig lykkelig. Nu er det bare en eneste ting i verden som jeg skulle ha en sånn umåtelig lyst til.

Doktor Rank: Nå? Og hva er det?

Nora: Der er noe som jeg hadde en så umåtelig lyst til å si så Torvald hørte på det.

Doktor Rank: Og hvorfor kan De så ikke si det?

Nora: Nei, det tør jeg ikke, for det er så stygt.

Fru Linde: Stygt?

Doktor Rank: Ja, da er det ikke rådelig. Men til oss kan De jo nok -. Hva er det De har sånn lyst til å si så Helmer hører på det?

Nora: Jeg har en sånn umåtelig lyst til å si: død og pine.

Doktor Rank: Er De gal!

Fru Linde: Men bevares, Nora —!

Doktor Rank: Si det. Der er han.

—Henrik Ibsen, Et Dukkehjem, første akt

Nora: Yes, now I'm really extremely happy. Now there's only one thing in the world I'd really like.

Dr. Rank: Oh, what's that?

Nora: It's something I'd very much like to say so Torvald could hear it.

Dr. Rank: And why can't you say it?

Nora: Oh, no; I wouldn't dare; it's so ugly.

Mrs. Linde: Ugly?

Dr. Rank: Well, that wouldn't be advisable then. But you can always say it to us. What is it you would very much like to say so Torvald could hear it?

Nora: I would very much like to say: Hell and damnation!

Dr. Rank: Are you mad?!

Mrs. Linde: Heavens, Nora!

Dr. Rank: Say it; here he is.

—Henrik Ibsen, A Dollhouse, act one (translated by C.C. Hall)

"Of course," says Henry, pushing back his chair, "some people, me included, believe that punk is just the most recent manifestation of this, this spirit, this feeling, you know, that things aren't right and that in fact things are so wrong that the only thing one can do is to say Fuck It, over and over again, until someone stops us."

—Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife

I think Nora's impulse and Henry's are essentially the same thing, and Fuck it is a pretty good present-day analogue for Nora's rather milder oath. Speaking of analogues, død og pine is a bit of a challenge for Ibsen's translators; the literal meaning is "death and torture," which is not exactly an idiomatic swear-phrase in English. I think the Archer translation has something along the lines of "Well, I'm damned!"; I find this a bit of a stretch, but perhaps it carried the right connotations in the England of Archer's time. Otto Reinert renders it as "goddammit!" To my ear, Hall's "Hell and damnation!" seems like the best choice; it's idiomatic, but it preserves the syntactic structure and at least a little of the literal sense of the original.

On the other hand, death and torture rank pretty high on the list of things that make me want to say Fuck it right now, so perhaps Nora had it exactly right to begin with.

Nuværende musik: Dean Gray, "Dr Who on Holiday"
鉄観音: sad mihoisolt on 18. December, 2005 20:42 (UTC)
OK, you mentioned The Time Traveler's Wife.

I have to go cry now.

(Someday in the future I'll be brave enough to reread it, and probably sob all over again. And again.)
Q. Pheevr: The real meq_pheevr on 19. December, 2005 07:03 (UTC)

I know what you mean. If the quotation I wanted had been much later on in the book, it would have been difficult to look it up.