Antun Barac – ‘Fiume’ in English

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‘Fiume’

(passing impressions, July 1919)
by Antun Barac – translated by Martin Mayhew

Three beautiful, sunny, autumnal days. I don’t know what happened. In a single morning all the ties snapped, that were holding the voice in the throat, that loosened the links, that were chaining the feet, the heavy and rigid mask fell, that was hiding the face. A quiet whisper, which spoke curses and revealed a howl, scattered itself like a wild, holy cry of joy, whilst a hand, a pathetic hand, taught to give a servile and official greeting, extended for the first time in a bold gesture of belief and confidence in itself.

We went onto the streets, in processions, assemblies, groups and we sang and cheered. And everything was so sunny, bright and light. And everything was clear and cheerful and happy in the beautiful, clear autumnal day.

In the barracks there were soldiers, and they were cheering. In the hospitals there were wounded, and they were singing. The soldiers came out onto the streets and were firing their guns. After four blurry years it was the first time that the firing meant joy, after four sombre summers it was the first time that a bullet didn’t mean death, but life. And it was as though that shot, which was now rising into the air, was a symbol, as it rises and as it falls.

On the chests flowers and tricolours. In the windows flowers and tricolours. On the streetlamps, on the telephone poles, on the makeshift stands flower and tricolours.

In a red, white, blue, green colour, in the grey colours of joy, ecstasy, hope and belief, on each flag, that flutters, of elation, love, sympathy and adoration, which the flag as a symbol means. In the red glow of love and brotherhood towards everything and everyone, in the whiteness of the cleanliness and sublimeness of ecstasy, hope in the new world, that was being created.

We went out onto the streets and sang. We welcomed the foreign troops and sang. We threw flowers and sang. We welcomed ships from foreign countries and sang. “Call out, just call out… Viva la France! Allons enfants de la Patrie!…” And the children of the homeland arrived, and laughed, and danced, and cheered.

Here people just walk around and cheer and sing” – they say, wrote home one French sailor. “Viva la Yugoslavie!” His compatriots cheered – and in their scepticism and in their laughter for the sake of laughing and joy for the sake of joy we felt the first stab of disappointment and misunderstanding.

In an isolated corner an old hunched over woman was sobbing. “Woman, why are you crying?” – asked a voice – I don’t know whose, and I don’t know where from. “In every joy there is a note of pain, in every laugh a seed of sorrow”, as though replying to somebody’s voice – who knows whose, who knows where from?

Three beautiful, clear, sunny, autumnal days. Three days of song and clamour and ecstasy. And then – armoured cars, machine guns and horses on the cobblestones and pikes, stretching up high, rigidly, arrogantly. In the port heavy ships with cannons aimed at the city, on the street assault troops with helmets, rifles, knapsacks and ammunition belts.

Three beautiful, clear, sunny, days passed. And nothing to show for them. Only a difficult, long winter with clouds. Just a cold summer with raindrops, that with the ‘bura’ and rain even the tears froze. Just a gloomy spring without light or sun.

Maybe a time will come, when all the ecstasy and elation will seem ridiculous to us. Maybe a period will come, when every sense will be reduced to a mathematical or chemical formula. I only know, that even then, when I was in the height of national fervour, I felt no desire for revenge or hatred or malice – the days of the greatest joy were days of forgiveness for everything, to all who had oppressed us, days of national liberty, a time when love for everyone was the most lively, the most conscious. And in those days of intoxicated delight and love, that had boiled over, the clenched fists, clashes and attacks were the end of everything.

I don’t know what happened. In just one day with a wild roar they began to tear down the tricolours of red and white and blue, and in the windows, on the streetlamps, the houses, the buildings, the churches suddenly others appeared – red and white and green, with a star and a coat of arms. Everywhere the coat of arms and everywhere the star, and everywhere fanatic hatred in the faces and fury and poison in the looks. “Italia o morte! Fuori il straniero!” Whilst the straniero thoughtfully stops and thinks: “Who in fact is the stranger?

In these sombre days of waiting and incertitude, desperation and zeal, it is so difficult to be alive and carry all the heavy burden of the present; however it is hardest to be human. So many times I have felt the pain and burden of life, but the worst thing was when I felt the aching shame, I didn’t feel fear for myself, but for those who persecuted us, the shame of man, that chaotic, disproportionate mixture of beast and god. The beast, wild, brutal, vicious, kicking and rearing up, and the god, sublime, the ashen sceptic levelling with it, taming or incensing it. And in the battle of animal with god like the battle of a bull with a toreador – the white, red, blue, green colours, that they have signifying a symbol, they stimulate it, intoxicate it, they extol it, bring it to an ecstasy of madness and rage. Fiume, the yellowish-grey, deceitful animal, from the eyes of which peer the envy and intoxication of excessive enthusiasm, throws itself, snapping, howling and moaning into exhaustion, until it falls bewildered, unconscious to the ground.

Therein the roar is so quiet! Therein the crowd is so uneasy and lonely. In this racket our steps reverberate so eerily. Oh, the whole of this city, whose number of inhabitants doubled in a few months, as it turned into a huge, grey, isolated monastery, where the shadows succumb to the wolf, hollow songs reverberate and the voices of muffled prayers drone. And thus it is miraculously quiet and in the murmur, so terribly calm in the constant throng.

Why call this city Rieka, when it is – Fiume. Reka, Rika, Rieka – that sounds so sweet, placid and childlike like the nostalgic “ca” and “ča” of the people of Drenova, Plase, Trsat, reminiscent of the sunny gleam of the stone walls and enclosures scattered with rocks and brambles, amongst which, in spring, blossom such beautiful and fragrant violas, a modest and shy flower. It is a city with a filthy physiognomy and with an inner self bland and murky, like the murky Fiumare canal, the dead water that cries for it. The Fiuman is a separate race, not belonging to any one nation. It is a mixture of everything that has come to this merchant city to trade – of everything, of many things. The Fiuman is both an Italian and a Yugoslav – an Italian, born of Yugoslavs and brought up as a Yugoslav, who cheers at the top of his voice: “O Italia o morte!, the Yugoslav is a quiet and timid beast, hiding because of his interests of his national origin with a neutral, inexpressible, merchant’s sneer. Whilst the Riečanin, Recan, Ričanin – they are the masses – they are the nameless mass, who don’t ask, quantité négligeable, they are the inhabitants of the workers’ houses, basements and attics, the servants and labourers, small artisans and assistants, the masses, who have only one head, and who would, maybe, with just a single blow fall. And that is the characteristic, external image of the city – Fiume, Fiuman. And in this fatal exchange is the source of all the illusions, all the efforts and all the miserable disappointments.

Years and years of timid and quivering yearnings for the city of Kvarner and in that name I will stop with everything, that was the dearest and utmost in life – but then the bloody realisation, that it was all just a yearning for childhood, for the sea, for the days that had gone forever. Yet there is no city, there is no childhood and there is no sea. There is only Fiume and Gomila and Fiumara – a murky, stagnant mire, like a feeble residue of exacerbated human passions, without the strength that it vanishes, without the strength that it stirs up, rises, moves.

Corso. An evening stroll. In the looks a glow and depth, in the gestures a yearning and yielding to love. Yet the whole city seems to shiver from one single deep gaze, which rises from the bottom of the soul and seeps into the bottom of the soul, and the whole city seems to twinkle from love, that is only the soul, only the soul. Whilst down, in the depths, inside – ah, there is no soul and there is nothing, the base and desolation and emptiness. And the whole of this city and all these people who rousingly speak and shout and wave – the whole of this city has no soul, and everything, that moves it, is the basic animal life. And its voice is not the sublimeness of ecstasy nor the size of reproach – everything is just a roar, clamour and mania. And the moment will come and everything will boil over and everything will disappear, what froths up and what rises up – on the empty bottom will remain just Fiume, a city without a soul and without physiognomy and a notion without features.

Over five bloody years ten times in the memory of the sparseness and irritation of the nerves the city howled and ten times they changed the inscriptions and ten times in a fanatical irritation the masses passed over their old idols. Today on the ruins of everything, a fiery rage triumphs in the proud satisfaction, that with the greatest lie it refuted thousands of its little lies and that in the deafening cry it suppressed everything, that protests, that rebels. Because that cry is not a lie, because this fire of enthusiasm isn’t hypocrisy. It is Fiume and everything is Fiume. And to whomsoever this Città di San Vito belongs; whosoever flag will flutter next to the double-headed eagle with the yellow-blue symbol – will win, I’m afraid of Fiume, and with a shout of honest enthusiasm the malicious cry of a lazy and cunning animal will intervene. And that is my fear and it will be a drop of bitterness in that moment, which we will surely never live to see.

What can enthral a man in this city, in which culture and supremacy are denoted by the black marks on the walls and the holes in broken inscribed tiles? In our weakness for it there is a weakness towards one’s own past, which is contained in these pavements, street corners and quays, a weakness towards the whistle of departing steamships and the whiteness of unfurled sails, that awoke our childlike imagination and tied it to this place, that doesn’t love us. In our trepidation towards its destiny there is only the fear for those miserable, unknown, oppressed thousands, who just silently accept the blows and ridicule and the stamp of inferiority. We understand that the sinful must repent the sins and perform penance those, who have deserved it. However what did the little pale children commit that they must suppress their voices in their throats, the only one with which they are able to express the feeling of happiness in the joy and drive of wickedness in the game?

Our feeling of attachment with this city isn’t a feeling of love, but a feeling of pain, and fear, and hopelessness in the sense of a wounded animal and disgust and revulsion. Because it is just Fiume – and Fiume is not an organism, not a concept, not a soul, but something colourless and tepid and tensile, that with its odour tears at the nostrils and throat, and intoxicates and commits evil. And here nothing enthrals and here nothing is attractive. The love of this city – ah, it is an illusion, it isn’t love, but an escape from it, an escape to the blueness of the sea, the sigh of Trsat, the greenery of Opatija and Volosko and the serene vistas towards Kostrena, Omišalj, Cres and Ika. Everything that nature has warm and soothing and soft, is gathered around this city, to shield it, to protect it, to conceal it. And the reason why its poison didn’t act. In the moment when the heavy shackles fall from the chests and from the legs and from the hands and from the tongues, from all sides pale children will rush and shower it with flowers of love, forgiveness and it will forget all the insults, all the blows and all the threats.

From Školjić to Kantrida – one and the same street and one and the same image: houses without expression, without style, stores, shop windows, markets. In the place where there is only trade, all the houses are built on clear commercial principles: with the least expenses – the highest rents. Houses without physiognomy, without souls. In the city, where everything is measured purely in monetary measures, the friars had also taken advantage of the few metres of free space around the church and built umpteen little rooms for shops. Trade is not permitted in the temple, however it is better in front of and around the temple. The city of fifty thousand inhabitants did not give up one single man, whose name would be recorded in the history of culture and art, and wishing to somehow christen their streets, the fathers of the city were having to reach back for names from the mother countries: of Hungary and Italy. In a city of fifty thousand souls there is not one monument, and the only highpoints on the streets are advertising posts and lavatories – as unintentional symbols of it, as if it is the only purpose in this place. I love and appreciate trade as a means, but as soon as it becomes the meaning of life, it becomes both the negation and profanation of all higher values. And that which people would have to make them happy, to lead them ever upwards, throws them ever lower. And Fiume is deep, so deep.

Amongst its great evidence for being Italian the supremacy of Italian culture is prominent in Rijeka, the culture of the Italian is greater than that of the Yugoslav. Whilst the first glance at this city shows that it has, in general, no culture, not only of its own, but no culture of any kind, and that, which in the moment could deceive the eyes, is just glued on, that is easily washed-off by the rain or over night, when the city’s new generation is over-patriotically disposed.

The fun fairs, public houses, buffet bars, cafés, cinemas. All dirty, all abandoned, all in disarray. The dirt of the port as though it passes into the city itself, into every corner, every alleyway. This relatively large city is not capable of supporting a permanent theatre, whilst the companies, which are hosted here for a month, twice a year, can only be supported by the subscriptions of Yugoslav misers. In the place, where all the sights are just negative assets, such are the values and the two most important characteristics: Rijeka’s Gomila and Rijeka’s street gangs. The heart, the centre of the city, consisting of ancient ruins, disgusting mansions with narrow and winding streets, where the sun never reaches and where streams of undignified liquids flow freely; dangerous, dark corners, smelly inns, and women, and beggars, and drunks. While Rijeka’s street gangs they are a mighty gutter army, an abandoned mob that attacks the schiavi, that fights selflessly and fervidly for the lofty goals of the city’s fathers and less selflessly, for the needs of life. And that is – Fiume.

In the days of liberty, in the days of the universal love of forgiveness, a grey monster howled, that calls itself Fiume, with a howl of hatred and revenge. In the days, when kisses and expressions of brotherhood should have rained down, it prepared itself for secretive bites, punches and stabs. And why wasn’t the punch stronger, that is just the deceitful cunningness and feeling of weakness alongside all the abundance of gesticulation.

Fiume November 1918Is this city ours? Ours are those thousands and thousands of silent beings, who resignedly just wait, eternally waiting, thousands unarmed and unlawful, who upon the punch and the bite correspond with a speechless look, who upon an energetic nod from their masters sign up dutifully and without opposition, not asking: “Where to?” – It doesn’t matter, what they’re called. In the ascertainment of their anguish there was the justification of a love for them, from their speechless mouths comes a call for resistance, for rebellion, for liberation. And that is why, as their national consciousness is not strong, as the term of Yugoslavism has not developed in them yet, their pain is even stronger: it is the consciousness, that despises them, that brands them without reason, without cause, that they oppress the concept of man in them. Yet theirs is the main feeling, the feeling of shame, that they belong to a common creed unlawful, powerless, weak – and with the sense of the joy of life is mixed some dreary feeling of their own inferiority, a state of neglect before the mighty.

Whatever happened, whatever the fate of this city, I will not complain and I will not pity those, to whom the street corners, the banks, the ships and the warehouses belong. Alongside all of their Yugoslav tricolours, were also the Fiumani, and in their pre-war silence and chivalrousness were hidden the subterfuge and calculating attitude of the merchant, who goes just for the money. I won’t grieve for them nor for the legion of those, who over three lovely autumnal days cheered, sang and carried banners. I will only grieve for the pale little people, as their half-spoken “ča” chokes in the instinctive fear before the sharp glance of contempt and superiority…

Long, difficult months of waiting. Events, attacks, parades. Soldiers, soldiers, soldiers. Italians, French, Americans, English, Indo-Chinese. Ships, automobiles, aeroplanes. Carabinieri, bersaglieri, granatieri. Infantry, sailors, lancers, gunners. Crowded and mixed and multi-coloured. Smugglers, detainees, fugitives. And the inns and basements reverberate and glass shatters and girls scream, and blood, wine and champagne flow. Fiume goes crazy and howls and rages.

Yet that’s what it wanted and so sullenly and so sombrely. Like the shadows we loiter only around the corners and we disappear in the corners. Whilst the sun stings and the truth stings. However, the shame against man stings the most of all, for man, as he oppresses his own brother. Of all these people of various colours and uniforms the most likeable are the Annamese (Vietnamese from the French peacekeeping forces), yellow, silent, mysterious, calm creatures with a sick nostalgia for the East and a blunt lack of understanding for all of this colourful, noisiness and craziness. Why are they here and for what use is the secret, eternal pain for the motherland? The same feeling in them, that they protect us, and in us, that they protect. A feeling of pain, shame, submissiveness, disgrace.

Mornings and afternoons and evenings pass. And nights fall, long nights without sleep, when below the windows the hooves of horses clatter as they pass by, heavy cannons boom, the steps of soldiers reverberate. And the city stays silent and the river stays silent, and the sea, in a troubled uncertainty. Just above the houses glimmer the large, light letters: Viva Fiume italiana! And the shining sign and the shining star, so that the brothers can see on the other bank. And they in despair and hopeless expectancy hide their heads amongst the pillows, so they see nothing, so they hear nothing, so they feel nothing. And everything is dead, rigid, uneasy. And everything is sleepless yet in a dream, without a break, without rest, without peace, without joy.

It just sleeps like a fatigued beast, dreaming maliciously and in that sleep of new bites and stabs, the grey formless masses, Fiume sleeps, a city without soul and without physiognomy.

*******

antun baracAntun Barac (1894 Kamenjak near Crikvenica – Zagreb 1955) was an important literary historian and writer, who was an advocate for the publication of Janko Polić Kamov’s works. In 1917 he established the influential publishing institute ‘Jug’ in Zagreb with other writers. Amongst the books they planned to published was Kamov’s only novel Isušena Kaljuža written from 1906-1909, but this never happened.

Barac spent the unsettled period after the First World War from 1918-1924 in Sušak (the eastern part of today’s Rijeka) working as a professor at the secondary school. During this period he wrote this short, stark, even poetic essay Fiume, in which he describes the unpleasant events and experiences in the city of Rijeka at the time of the arrival of foreign peace-keeping troops whilst the city’s fate was being decided in post-war negotiations, and just upon the eve of the arrival of D’Annunzio and his soldiers. It is interesting to note that Barac was most likely reading the still as yet unpublished manuscript of Kamov’s Isušena Kaljuža during this period and that it may have influenced his writing of Fiume. This text was first published in the journal Njiva in 1919.

Barac was also the originator of the idea to publish a collection of the complete works of Janko Polić Kamov, which finally saw the light of day from 1956-1958, amongst which the novel Isušena Kaljuža was printed for the first time almost 50 years after Kamov wrote it.

Thanks to Igor Žic

Andro Vid Mihičić – poetry in English

andro_vid_mihicic_youngAndro Vid Mihičić was born in the idyllic village of Beli on the island of Cres on 26th March 1896. He was an art historian, professor and poet. At an early age he enjoyed nature and philosophy. He was educated in Paris as a Franciscan Tertiary Friar and there he graduated from the Faculty of Art History at La Sorbonne. During the Second World War he joined the anti-fascist movement as a military chaplain. In 1944 he left the Franciscan Order. After the war he was chosen as professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. He only began to publish his poems when he was 92.

Here are some excerpts from his beautiful short poems, translated from the original Croatian into English, which accompany the sculptures of Ljubo de Karina on the trails in the forests of Tramuntana on the northern part of the island of Cres.

Testament
I have no sons, no grandsons.
To whom shall I leave my poem and my dream
and the great wings of foreboding
which in infinity flap?
To you, my people!
From you I sprang,
through you I return to immortality
so I flow through the underground again
with the flowers in the fields I blossom
and build stalactites underground
for a temple of beauty and dreams.
All to you and only to you,
my Croatian people.

beli alleyWhen I arrived in Beli
it was dark.
Stables full of dying sounds.
Gorges and glens full of ghosts and spectres,
the sea full of stars
and the sky,
full of deep secrets
and an infinite blueness.

beli flowerHave you ever heard flowers talking at night?
Around us everything is full of secrets.
Even in a rock life is hidden
– nothing is dead.

 

 

life in a rockLife is also hidden in a rock,
dreamt of, but it’s there.
Hit it, you’ll hear its heart beating.

 

 

beli ruined houseWhat are you looking for – a flower asks me –
In the mist in front of the ruined houses
In the darkness even trees pray.
Talk to me, wind, about the sun
On the field.

 

beli pathNature cleanses the man,
It fills him with power of the mind,
instinct and the forces of life,
And reveals a secret of modesty.

 

 

beli cliff viewOn the cliff near my village
griffons build nests
into the sky they dive
they circle
they rise up
and defy the storms.

*****

His poetry accompanies the sculptures of Ljubo de Karina on the eco-trails in the forests of Tramuntana on the northern part of the island of Cres.

Ljubo-de-Karina-montageHe died on 26th January 1992 in Mali Lošinj.

Andro Vid Mihičić - picture from Tramuntana guide book, published by Eko Centar Caput Insulae 2007

Andro Vid Mihičić – picture from Tramuntana guide book, published by Eko Centar Caput Insulae 2007

Andro_vid_mihicic_bustA bust of Andro Vid Mihičić is placed on the side of the parish church in Beli in his honour.

Beli - the idyllic hilltop village on the island of Cres where Mihičić was born.

Beli – the idyllic hilltop village on the island of Cres where Mihičić was born.

Kamov – ‘Isušena kaljuža’ English extracts

Extracts from my work-in-progress translation of Janko Polić Kamov’s revolutionary, modernist novel ‘Isušena kaljuža‘ (working title ‘The Dried Up Mire‘).

These extracts are from the first part of the novel ‘Na dnu‘ (‘At the Bottom‘).

isusena-kaljuza-cover-insetThey set off on a walk. Across the square passed a funeral, a long cortège of men, women and some kind of craftsmen’s guild. The music slowly followed the sad and boring step, under the gloomy sky, on the unbearable Sunday, which had closed the shops, cleaned the marketplace, brought people out for a walk or made them yawn at the windows of their houses. It was after noon. There were people at the side, who were looking blankly at the procession. The colourful robes, both genders, young and old, all with the same looks, which were neither of sadness nor curiosity, but of a kind of long, protracted and half-dead look, that notices nothing, but sees everything. The tolling of bells rang out like somebody’s voices breaking up then returning, sinking and re-merging like a castaway at sea. Arsen stared at the coffin. Behind it there cried one young woman, throwing her head wildly into a handkerchief and twitching her shoulders as though wanting to shake off some burden. One gentleman was reconciling her, but she just shook her head all the more wildly and the sounds like a torn crack came crashing down onto the white coffin and the stinking corpse inside it. “She’s crying” and immediately Arsen wants a young woman to cry for him upon his death too, dressed in black, with red-hot cheeks, and that she throws her head into a handkerchief and touches her tears with her nose. He was moved. He was watching her listening to her sob, captivating, sweet and rich. “Yes, this kind of sobbing…Whilst I would be lying inside damp planks, on which the paint had not yet dried. In gold writing:Arsen Toplek – the people will read and whoever remembers that they knew this man will feel sorry for the dead youth and also for that dark, red-hot woman who cries for him…Even she is young…”

sprovod“No, brother workers! Our struggle will be as peaceful as our conscience. And whoever interferes with our conscience, let them quickly realise, that our conscience is the conscience of millions.” There then erupts shouting and clapping amidst the raised arms, which were flailing around in the smoky light. Arsen, agitated, not being able to handle the feelings of fear and elation that were unconsciously gushing out of him, seizes upon the impression of those arms. To him they seemed blackened and scraggy, bristling like the fingers of a huge beast that would lacerate the world and blow apart existence. The same man continued, raising his voice, as though the past of a destitute old drunkard was emanating from his mouth.
At that moment the police broke down the door with bare sabres and called upon them to “disperse in the name of the law.” Arsen didn’t hear what happened next. Several chairs were knocked over, some glasses were smashed and the restaurant began to empty. Inside a sabre still flashed around as did several bare heads that couldn’t reach the door immediately. Arsen felt a sharp blow to his back, and then the thrust of pale people trembling from anger and fear pushed him outside. Only then did Arsen see two guards striking a woman with their sabres on the other side of the street and shouting something unclear he moved closer. But they immediately left her, because at the other door the guards were still scuffling with the crowd, which was resisting with sticks and offensive shouting.

policesabresprincipTranslated from the original Croatian novel ‘Isušena kaljuža’ written by Janko Polić Kamov (as yet not translated or published in English) by Martin Mayhew

Sva prava pridržana / All rights reserved

*****************************

U potrazi sam za sponzorstvom ili drugim oblikom financijske potpore kao i prikladnog izdavača (za tisak knjige ili e-book verzije) kako bih završio svoj prijevod svih djela Janka Polića Kamova. Na prijevodu sam njegovih djela s hrvatskog na engleski jezik radim od 2012. godine. Tijekom tog procesa stvaram jedinstveni rječnik fraza i arhaičnih riječi koje Kamov koristi u svojim djelima, kao odraz i osobnog autorskog stila ali i vremena u kojem je pisao. Taj bi se rječnik mogao koristiti od strane budućih prevoditelja zainteresiranih za ovo značajno razdoblje hrvatske književnosti.
Molim vas, kontaktirajte me ako ste zainteresirani.

Intervju

I am looking for sponsorship or funding and a suitable publisher (printed or online) in order to complete my translations of all of Kamov’s work. I have been working on translating his works into English since 2012. During this process I am compiling a unique glossary which could be used by future translators interested in this important period of Croatian literature.
You can read more about my work here: interview
Please contact me if you are interested.

More Kamov…

Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić’s House of Fairy Tales

Ivana_brlic_mazuranicIvana Brlić-Mažuranić is probably Croatia’s most famous children’s story writer. Her works have been compared to those of J.R.R Tolkien and Hans Christian Andersen. She was born in Ogulin in 1874 into a very well to do Croatian family. Her inspiration for writing fairy tales was the countryside around Ogulin and in particular the mountain of Klek. She was nominated several times for the Nobel Prize for Literature and her most famous work is a collection of stories published as ‘Croatian Tales of Long Ago’ based on ancient Slavic mythology. One of her most popular stories is ‘The Brave Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice’ which along with the tales collection has been translated into many languages and enjoyed by children all around the world.

ivana logoIn honour of Ivana’s contribution to literature the town of Ogulin has been regularly holding a Festival of Fairy Tales and in late 2013 the Ogulin Tourist Board opened an interactive, multimedia visitor’s centre ‘Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales‘ to celebrate the life and work of Croatia’s greatest children’s writer.
I was very honoured to have been involved in the project as an English language proofreader for all parts of the centre, the interactive games and exhibitions featured inside as well as all the promotional material, brochures, books and DVD accompanying the project. It was a pleasure working with the translator Nada Kujundžić and the project management team at Muze d.o.o.
Ogulin promotional material

The visitor’s centre offers an array of exhibitions, workshops, state-of-the-art interactive games, touch-screen, multimedia installations all in order to stimulate children’s imaginations about fairy tales, myths, legends and tales as well as a memorial to Ivana’s life and her works.

** NEWS **

The Croatian Museum Association (HRMUD) awarded the visitor’s centre in Ogulin as the Best Permanent Museum Exhibition in Croatia of 2014 in Opatija on 10th October.

*****

The town of Ogulin has also created a Fairy Tale Route which winds through the town and its environs. The video below sums up superbly the whole atmosphere of the project. All-in-all it has turned the town into the Homeland of Fairy Tales, well worth a visit!

Ivana’s work is so popular that she even features in school yard graffiti – this is at the Podmurvice primary school in Rijeka :)
OŠ PodmurviceIvana's tale of Hlapić (ENG Laptich) the schoolmaker's apprentice features is popular amongst children and features in many children playgrounds. Here in Turnić near Rijeka.

Ivana’s tale of Hlapić (ENG Laptich) the schoolmaker’s apprentice features is popular amongst children and features in many children playgrounds. Here in Turnić near Rijeka.

halpic4 hlapic1 hlapic2

hlapic5

 

Common English translation mistakes

As I work as a Croatian to English translator and proofreader I spend great amounts of time reading a multitude of texts for all and sundry. From simple tourist brochure descriptions of resorts and campsites to intensive scientific and academic papers about language, the arts and history.
what-howSince starting in this business in 2004 I have seen and read some terribly and some excellently translated English texts but there are many errors, misspellings and grammar mistakes which translators from Croatian to English make which will instantly pinpoint them as not being made by a native English speaker, or that the text hasn’t even been checked by a native English speaker.
why-whenReading a well-translated text is a breath of fresh air but when I come across something which is considered to be “good enough” or written by a client’s relative who once lived in America then my enthusiasm drops and I ask myself “why do people bother?”. Sometimes it’s blatantly obvious that the translator hasn’t even bothered to use simple spellchecking programme!!
Of course there are differences between American and British spellings of certain words – an issue that some translators seem to be blindly unaware of. I always use British English and if I am given a mixture if texts in different forms of English to proofread I will always confirm with the client which they prefer.
These kinds of issues can be avoided by editors, project managers or clients supplying the translator (and subsequently the proofreader) with a style-sheet which covers all the formatting, grammar, styling and language required to make all the texts, articles, submissions from writers and contributors et al. cohesive and unified. Since working in Croatia I have never been given a style-sheet!
Why don’t businesses, tourist associations, public institutions, industry etc. make it known who does their translations? Every publisher which I have worked with has…

So, I decided to start a list of the most common mistakes – this will be an ever increasing list as more examples pop up…

error – correction
“loose” – lose.
navodnicequotation marks
payed” – “paid”.
“informations” – “information” (there is no plural in English)
“then” – “than”.
year format: 2014. – 2014
number format: 1.212.459,25 – 1,212,459.25
“divers” – “diverse”.
“We arrive at 2pm and meet Your friend…” – “your” or “you” are never used with “Y”, unless to start a sentence. English does not have the formal “vi” or “Vi” as Croatian does.
“sadržaji” – in tourism is not “contents” it’s “facilities” or “activities”.
“advices” – “advice” (there is no plural in English)
“manifestacija” – “event” – never use “manifestation” in text about tourism.
“ponuda” – Yes it means “offer” but try to use a word more imaginative: “choice”, “selection”, “attraction”….
“bogat” – another word overused in tourist texts.
“gastronomija” – use “cuisine”, “culinary” or just “food”.

MORE TO COME……

Mmmm, this beer has a bite!

Mmmm, this beer has a bite!

 

 

 

Legendfest – writing and performances

legendfest 2011 bannerLegendfest is a three-day festival of myths, legends, folklore and live performances held every year in the small hilltop village of Pićan, in Istria, Croatia. During the festival the village becomes the backdrop for storytellers, children’s workshops, live theatrical shows, local food, arts and crafts and concerts, which draw on the rich traditions and history of Istria. Visitors have the chance to go back in time and experience anything from medieval poetry to ancient myths in the picturesque setting.

Each year the festival has a different theme. I have written and performed at Legendfest since 2011. The theme for 2011 was pirates – and so myself as author, Cyborgix 4E75 as composer and musician, Miki orchestral composer and Jasmina Jazzy as performer, wardrobe and make-up manager, put together the audio/visual piece “Captain Morgan’s Hidden Treasure”. I played the ghost of the Caribbean pirate Captain Morgan (yes, him from the brand of rum) who, as legend says, visited the province of Istria, settled and established the real-life village of Mrgani (meaning the “place of the Morgans”). The myth recalls how he had buried his last stash of gold and treasure nearby. Our 15 minute performance was his story and how he had returned from the spirit world to Istria to uncover the location of his buried treasure after 300 years.

captain morgan martin mayhew

Performing as the ghost of Captain Morgan

Cybergix 4E75

Cyborgix 4E75 – composer, arranger and musician on keyboards

Jasmina Jazzy played the seductive spectre

Jasmina Jazzy played the seductive spectre

In our performance we were joined by Alen Tibljaš – one of Croatia’s most respected drummers, who added some extra drama to the composition. The show was held in the tiny chapel of Sv. Mihovil on the outskirts of the village of Pićan situated at the top of the surrounding cliffs – the perfect location for our dark tale of ghostly pirates and treasure.

Alen Tibljaš pićan

Alen Tibljaš added atmospheric percussion

At the end of the performance, which closed the festival on the last evening, many of the festival’s other performers came and joined us for pirate revelry and choruses of “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest. Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum. Drink and the devil had done for the rest….” The audience thoroughly enjoyed it!

Legendfest 2012 posterThe theme for Legendfest 2012 was witches, wizards and goblins and so we delved into Istria’s rich heritage of myths, legends and folklore and wrote, composed and produced a new concept and performance – “Legend From Istria”. Based upon tales of Istrian gods I played Stribor, son of Svarog – The God of Wind and I narrated the terrible story of good versus evil to take back the land of Istria which had been conquered by the Underworld demons of Bjesomar and Morana played by Cyborgix 4E75 and Jasmina Jazzy.

legendfest 2012 show

Pićan’s tiny chapel of Sv. Mihovil was the perfect setting for our dramatic show

Svarog summoned up the help of Slavic gods Perun – the God of Thunder and Gerovita – The Master of War to defeat the two devils in a final cataclysmic battle scene which would see peace return to the beautiful land of Istria.

legendfest 2012

Our excellent costumes, make up, lasers and dry ice enhanced the performance

Once again we closed the festival programme after midnight on the last day, leaving the audience enthralled.

 

(jasmin): jasmin, jasmine, jasmyn

History of coffee in Rijeka

The history of coffee in the city of Rijeka stretches back to the beginning of the 18th century.
Rijeka Korzo/Corso cafe

In Europe cafés first appeared in the south of the continent. By 1570 Venetian merchants brought coffee to Venice along with tobacco. In the second half of the 17th century the first cafés were opened, and soon Milan, Turin, Genoa and other Italian cities followed the trend. Around 1760 there existed more than 200 cafés in Venice alone. Vienna is probably the best known European city for its cafés, and the opening of the first Viennese café, called “Hof zur Blauen Flasche” (“House under the Blue Bottle“) was related to the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683. Cafés became the places which captivated with their smell, comfort, warmth and all the activities which go along with drinking coffee such as reading the newspapers, playing cards or billiards, pleasant conversation and intellectual debates. Cafés became centres of social life.

Coffee most probably arrived in Rijeka following the examples of Venice and Vienna cafés, because as early as 1719 the Habsburg Emperor Charles VI declared Rijeka and Trieste as free ports, which at the same time also meant that the delivery of colonial goods could be made without Venetian intervention.

Records show that the first café was opened in 1715 in Rijeka by Tommaso Bianchi and Florio Maruloni, who were settlers from the Swiss province of Grigioni (Graubünden, Grischun, Grisons). It was located in the house named Domus Aurea, near the old council building in today’s Koblerov Trg.

The Ana Minak - a typical clipper boat used for the transport of coffee and tea.

The Ana Minak – a typical clipper boat used for the transport of coffee and tea.

Most imports of coffee to the Rijeka region were connected with the establishment of the Trieste-Fiume Company (1750) and its successor the Privileged Company of Trieste and Fiume (1775-1804), whose branch in Rijeka imported, amongst other things, great amounts of coffee and tea from Amsterdam, Nantes and Bordeaux. At the beginning of the 19th century the Rijeka entrepreneur Andrija Ljudevit Adamić participated in trade with overseas countries, importing tobacco, coffee and cocoa as well as other goods. These were goods imported from Central and Southern America.

Not much is known about the cafés, café service or interiors of those times today, although there is more information about the public houses, hotels, guesthouses and inns. Dominik Teleki von Szek states that in Rijeka in 1794 there were seven cafés and that they were the centre of social life.

The local shipyards of Rijeka, Istria and the Croatian littoral were involved in the construction of fast sailing ships, so-called barque-clippers, which were used for the transport of perishable goods, tea and coffee. At the end of the 19th century the main traffic in coffee to the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire came through Rijeka’s ports.

Caffe Al Risorgimento

Caffe Al Risorgimento

The entrepreneurial spirit of Rijeka’s people in this period can be seen in the opening of coffee roasting establishments in the city, because coffee was transported here as raw beans from Asia and South America as well.

grande cafe borsoIn Sušak several private companies operated which were involved in the import of colonial goods, which were imported directly, without intervention from the countries of origin. Josip Smerdel had a company, established in 1886, which also had a coffee roasting house. His shop sold the roasted and unroasted coffee brands of: Minas, Santos, Salvador, San Domingo, Perla Portorico, Liberia, Guatemala and Cuba Speciale, which clearly pointed to the diversity of the origins of the coffee. This was very similar to the selection of coffees which the Haramija-Mikuličić company also offered.

The interior of Josip Smerdel's shop in Sušak.

The interior of Josip Smerdel’s shop in Sušak.

Ljudevita Jelušića coffee shop, Kastav

Ljudevita Jelušića coffee shop, Kastav

After the division of Rijeka and Sušak at the beginning of the 1920s, a group of wholesalers was organised in Sušak and it founded the First Sušak Joint Stock Trading Society, which brought together a range of entrepreneurs involved in import-export. It was here that coffee found its place. Along with the usual flow of imported coffee from overseas, the society adapted its business operations to the emerging situations and connected itself with the Franck factory in Zagreb and with Kolinska in Ljubljana selling its coffee. Besides selling coffee it also sold coffee substitutes such as Rosil from figs, Kneipp from barley and Seka from chicory. The Haramija-Mikuličić roasting house sold coffee blends under the names of Mercantilna, Domaća, Stolna Melange, Imperial Melange and Haramika.

hotel cont

In the second half of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century there were numerous known cafés: Caffé Europa, Caffé Maritimo Mercantile, Caffé Centrale, Caffé Schenk (later Caffé Degli Specchi), Caffé Orient, Caffé Grande, Liburnia, De la Ville, Fiumara, Panachoff, Adria, Quarnero, Grande, Patriottico, Commercio, Panny, Specchi, Fiume Risorgimento, Apolo, Secession, Europa, Marittimo and Venezia.

hotel europecaffe europacafe lloydcaffe europaIn 1920 in Sušak a cooperative was founded of innkeepers, barkeepers and café owners in order to represent their rights in the town and district of Sušak. The cooperative consisted of around 100 members which in 1933 paid 10 dinars each for their membership. Amongst the first cafés in Sušak were the Caffé Europa and the Narodna Kavana.

The Cafe Bristol

The Cafe Bristol

The same building in 2104

The same building in 2104

During the 1960s the new Yugoslav society, thanks to the specifics of the political regime, there developed a special consumerism concerning coffee and its drinking in special places. Work meetings without coffee were unimaginable, and one of the main skills of business secretaries was the art of making the morning coffee. The whole atmosphere was complemented with a shopping trip to Trieste, if for nothing else than just to drink a cup of coffee.

The crisis or the so-called economic stabilisation of the 1980s was marked with a shortage of coffee, which gave additional reasons for a trip over the border and the “smuggling” of coffee.

The traditions of those first cafés were upheld by popular cafés of the second half of the 20th century: Učka, Triglav, Narodna Kavana, Kontinental, Union, Istra, Neboder, Gradska Kavana, Rječina, Slavica, Sport, Korzo, Zora, Žabica and their names still evoke pleasant memories and rich nostalgia.

Rijeka In Your Pocket guide summer 2013

rijeka in your pocket 2013The new updated 2013 edition of this popular city guide is available as a pdf download from their website:

http://www.inyourpocket.com/croatia/rijeka

Everything you’ll need to know about visiting Croatia’s third largest city – what to see, what to do, where to stay, where to eat, fashion, music, history and culture, transport, beaches and of course shopping.
I contributed to new and updated reviews of sights and places to visit.

Janko Polić Kamov – poetry in English

Janko Polić Kamov had two collections of his poetry published during his short lifetime (1886-1910). ‘Psovka’ (‘The Curse’) in 1907 and ‘Ištipana hartija’ (‘The Pinched Paper’) in 1907.
kamov psvoka cover
‘Psovka‘ contains nine pieces of poetic discourse including themes of blasphemy, love and sex, nature, surrealism, the human condition and basic instincts.
These poems have never been fully translated into English.

Here is my translation of one piece from ‘Psovka‘ entitled ‘Dan mrtvih’.

Day of the Dead

I took a pilgrimage, to the dead, to you and look, my soul is not sorrowful;
my thought is not of despair – oh the universe is not cruel.

I would sing psalms and sadden people;
my accusation would be the charge of nature, and the people would be the guilty;
shy as a prayer, distorted as Christ, holy as the air of the church.
Godly is their fear and headless as a flock of sheep;
it is like the mania of the hungry and the dread of slaves;
fear is their crime and misdoing is their child.

Damp earth, the sun’s rays kiss you and heavenly drops caress you:
woman of milky breasts and secrets of love;
woman of fiery verses and love of a heavenly betrothed.
Divine are your children and green is their name;
joyful are your children and birds are their strings;
fragrant are your children and the breeze is their song;
you are just a village girl and you have no city colours;
full is your body and love is its penchant;
your soul is like a body:
you are all harmony, you are all beauty as eternal truth.

But a man lunged:

your body is beaten and a curse is your blessing;
syphilis of bones and rottenness of the lungs is your sustenance;
a dead member is your love and your cross is green;
decay are your strings and grief is your chord –
tolling are tears – oh dead is your betrothed and your children are worms.

A depository of waste and decay, of man’s great crime;
mute is your accusation, whipped flesh;
bitter is your judgement, violated virgin;
devastating is your tragedy like death and your pain has no measure.
The pen is my trumpet:
dark are your acts, oh you dead;
dark as the love of Socrates and repulsive as the body of an ascetic;
mighty are your misdoings and there is no forgiveness for them;
there is no forgiveness for them and your die has been rolled;

dead are your souls – dead is the resurrection!

The pen is my trumpet and the universe its echo;
eternity smiles – the earth has not died;
the crosses break and time destroys the graves –
wanton is my poem: that the living live!

Milenko Bosanac 5*******

The original Croatian language text can be found at: http://www.kamov.hr/

more Kamov:
Kamov’s short stories in English
Kamov’s novel, Dora Maar and Picasso, Croatian avant garde
More of Kamov’s poetry in English

janko polić kamov signature

Janko Polić Kamov portraitU potrazi sam za sponzorstvom ili drugim oblikom financijske potpore kao i prikladnog izdavača (za tisak knjige ili e-book verzije) kako bih završio svoj prijevod svih djela Janka Polića Kamova. Na prijevodu sam njegovih djela s hrvatskog na engleski jezik radim od 2012. godine. Tijekom tog procesa stvaram jedinstveni rječnik fraza i arhaičnih riječi koje Kamov koristi u svojim djelima, kao odraz i osobnog autorskog stila ali i vremena u kojem je pisao. Taj bi se rječnik mogao koristiti od strane budućih prevoditelja zainteresiranih za ovo značajno razdoblje hrvatske književnosti.

Molim vas, kontaktirajte me ako ste zainteresirani.

I am looking for sponsorship or funding and a suitable publisher (printed or online) in order to complete my translations of all of Kamov’s work. I have been working on translating his works into English since 2012. During this process I am compiling a unique glossary which could be used by future translators interested in this important period of Croatian literature.

Please contact me if you are interested.