By Venedikt Erofeev
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Extra info for Walpurgis night, or The steps of the commander
The many puns and idioms that Erofeev embeds in the text also pose difficulties for translation. Marian Schwartz’s translation renders both the sense and the spirit of the play. The English-language reader experiences the temporary escape that poetic language offers the patients in the psychiatric ward (or the Soviet Union). The brutality that pervades the world of the hospital is conveyed in equally ugly English profanity. And Gurevich’s senseless roaring (ryk) at the end of the play is a tragic descent into voicelessness that signifies the destruction of poetry in all languages.
Even then he paid for his rude erudition. I opened the window vent, squeezed him through it, and hung him upside down—and we’re on the fourth—until he renounced his heretical doctrines. Today, by decision of God and the People, he’s been given the death penalty. I don’t really believe that in the beginning there was the Word, but there had to be some bedraggled word, and it must have been at the end, so let this bullshit artist lie there and think about that. GUREVICH: But tell me, Prokhorov, have you been invested with authority .
GUREVICH: Isaak Gurevich. And my mama is Rozalia Pavlovna. DOCTOR: Also Gurevich? GUREVICH: Yes. But she’s Russian. DOCTOR: Well, and what is your relationship with your mother? GUREVICH: You are tactless, doctor. ” supposed to mean? What is your relationship with yours, assuming you’re not an orphan? DOCTOR: Notice, patient, I’m holding my temper. I would ask the same of you. And who do you love more, your mama or your papa? Medically speaking, this is not at all irrelevant. GUREVICH: My papa, I guess.
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