RE: RARA-AVIS: Umberto Eco on Spillane

Enrique Bird (
Wed, 22 Dec 1999 11:03:37 -0400

Etienne, other friends,

I find curious the comment about "downtown". Though I can understand what it means and have visited such in several U.S. cities, it is a hard term to translate into Spanish. Yesterday I needed to do just that in explaining something to someone who does not understand English and could not find a simple way to do it!

Enrique F. Bird Pic󊼂R>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Etienne Borgers []
> Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 1999 6:24 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Umberto Eco on Spillane
> --- James Rogers <> wrote:
> > I pass this on as a curiosity:
> >
> > ''When I translated a book, especially hard-boiled
> > detective novels, like
> > those by Mickey Spillane, from English into Italian,
> > I often had to do a
> > parody of Italian detective novels to get the right
> > tone.
> > "I could not do a literal translation of slang like
> > 'Mr. Big,' or have the
> > detective say to a cab driver, 'Take me downtown.'
> > Italian readers would
> > think that the American city was built like
> > Florence, partly on a hill,
> > with an upper and lower town. - Umberto Eco
> Well, Umberto must be joking!
> Maybe that was all said with tongue in cheek?
> And could be detected by the context (?) of this
> declaration.
> First, I cannot believe UE will only translate the
> english text by a *literal* equivalent for each word:
> downtown? could be easily translated by a word meaning
> central town, commercial district..etc
> I know that some English translation of some of his
> essays did not satisfy him and he started to translate
> them later by himself, with the help of a
> specialist... and he discovered that he wrote finally
> something different in meaning in the second language,
> and continued to develop it directly in English -
> finally he translated this one back to Italian as it
> was a totally different work, and now with another
> title!
> As you know, UE is not only a literary critic but also
> a specialist in semiotics, applied to aesthetics
> and... language.
> So, I guess the declaration was tinted with some
> humor.
> Anyway, the Italian language is the best to express
> shortly what translation is all about:
> "Traduttore, traditore!" (translator, traitor!)
> Especially true for lit and even more so for pop lit!
> Finally: Happy Birthday, list!
> And a very good Season's Holiday to all of you.
> Y2K seems to promise to be really HB thanks to a bunch
> of old computer neirds, now mostly retreated as
> multimillionaires, and whom never gave a damn for the
> consequences of their past behavior.
> So, stay tuned... and be prepared to take a peek on
> globalisation of chaos during the coming months.
> E.Borgers
> Hard-Boiled Mysteries
> __________________________________________________
> Do You Yahoo!?
> Thousands of Stores. Millions of Products. All in one place.
> Yahoo! Shopping:
> --
> # To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to > # To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
> # The web pages for the list are at .

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to # To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Wed 22 Dec 1999 - 10:04:39 EST