Thursday, December 26, 2019


A Howler

Clive James (1939-2019), "Primo Levi's Last Will and Testament," As of This Writing: The Essential Essays, 1968-2002 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003), pp. 259-273 (at 264):
The translator's Italian is good enough to make sure that he usually doesn't, when construing from that language, get things backward, but he can get them sidewise with daunting ease, and on several occasions he puts far too much trust in his ear. To render promiscuità as "promiscuity," as he does twice, is, in the context, a howler. Levi didn't mean that people forced to live in a ghetto were tormented by promiscuity. He meant that they were tormented by propinquity. The unintentional suggestion that they were worn out by indiscriminate lovemaking is, in the circumstances, a bad joke.
Hat tip: Jim K.

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