Another movie today (the French My Golden Days, though the original title Three Memories of Youth is more accurate). I didn’t fall asleep during the film, though I was afraid I might; I slept little last night. But once home, I drowsed for maybe half an hour before assembling my dinner: leftovers of baked fish, mushroom risotto, and kabocha squash. I am still cooking, which means there are often leftovers, which I love.
While eating dinner, I read an article in The New York Review of Books about the original typescript of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. I read this classic novel by a disillusioned Communist (as a red-diaper baby, I was drawn to these stories) in my early 20s, and the author’s two-volume autobiography — I still remember his horrifying account of having his tonsils removed as a child, without anesthetic! From the NYRB article I learned that Koestler’s original manuscript, in German, had been thought lost. An English translation by Koestler’s then mistress, a young artist who was not a writer, was the first publication, in 1940, and Koestler translated it back into German a few years later. But now that the original has been found, it seems that there are numerous translation errors that soften Koestler’s points, German syntax creating awkward English, and unidiomatic English. What seemed odd to me is that Koestler translated the English version back into German after World War II, apparently without recreating his original — odd, until I remember that when I’ve rewritten something I’ve lost on the computer, I never feel it’s as good as what I wrote the first time.