I want to show you here the variations of translations of “Eugene Onegin”

Source text:

      «Мой дядя самых честных правил,
      Когда не в шутку занемог,
      Он уважать себя заставил
      И лучше выдумать не мог.
      Его пример другим наука;
      Но, боже мой, какая скука
      С больным сидеть и день и ночь,
      Не отходя ни шагу прочь!
      Какое низкое коварство
      Полуживого забавлять,
      Ему подушки поправлять,
      Печально подносить лекарство,
      Вздыхать и думать про себя:
      Когда же черт возьмет тебя!»

Beck’s translation:

“My uncle’s acted very wisely,
to seek his bed when he’s so sick;
his family’s reacted nicely
and he’s most happy with his trick.
He’s set the world a good example,
which others really ought to sample,
but it’s a bore, when night and day
the sick man forces you to stay!
To keep him sweet, as if he’s dying,
give him his daily medicine
and make quite sure that it goes in,
adjust the pillows while one’s sighing:
‘Don’t even think of getting well,
the devil take you, go to hell!’”

Nabokov’s translation:

“My uncle has most honest principles:
when he was taken gravely ill,
he forced one to respect him
and nothing better could invent.
To others his example is a lesson;
but, good God, what a bore to sit
by a sick person day and night, not stirring
a step away!
What base perfidiousness
To entertain one half-alive,
adjust for him his pillows,
sadly serve him his medicine,
sigh—and think inwardly
when will the devil take you?”


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