Sunday, February 04, 2007

L'odore della notte

I may look for Andrea Camilleri's The Smell of the Night in its original-language version one of these days. I won't stand a snowball's chance in the inferno of understanding L'odore della notte, especially since Camilleri writes in Sicilian dialect, but I'll want to see the original versions of the sayings that in English became "count your chickens before they hatch," "eat like a horse" and "sow your wild oats" in the scene I wrote about yesterday.

The Sicilian or Italian versions could hardly be literal equivalents. I’m guessing that the translator, Stephen Sartarelli, understood the effect of exasperation that Camilleri was striving for, then looked for English expressions whose triteness would affect an English speaker the way Livia's clichés affect Montalbano.

On the other hand, I once hopped into a cab in Rome on a rainy day, and the cab driver, who knew a tourist when he saw one, looked at me intently in the rear-view mirror, raised his eyebrows, and said, with great deliberation and careful enunciation, “Sto piuvendo – cani – e gatti,” literally “It’s raining – dogs – and cats.”

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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