Aschenputtel-Cinderella Translation

Grimm Brothers

“Seht einmal die stolze Prinzessin, wie sie geputzt ist”, riefen sie, lachten und führten es in die Küche. Da mußte es von Morgen bis Abend schwere Arbeit tun, früh vor Tag aufstehn, Wasser tragen, Feuer anmachen, kochen und waschen. Obendrein taten ihm die Schwestern alles ersinnliche Herzeleid an, verspotteten es und schütteten ihm die Erbsen und Linsen in die Asche, so daß es sitzen und sie wieder auslesen mußte. Abends, wenn es sich müde gearbeitet hatte, kam es in kein Bett, sondern mußte sich neben den Herd in die Asche legen. Und weil es darum immer staubig und schmutzig aussah, nannten sie es Aschenputtel.

“Just look at the proud princess, how decked out she is,” they cried, and laughed, and led her into the kitchen. There she had to do hard work from morning till night, get up before daybreak, carry water, light fires, cook and wash. Besides this, the sisters did her every imaginable injury – they mocked her and emptied her peas and lentils into the ashes, so that she was forced to sit and pick them out again. In the evening when she had worked till she was weary she had no bed to go to, but had to sleep by the hearth in the cinders. And as on that account she always looked dusty and dirty, they called her Cinderella.

Cendrillon-Cinderella Translation

Charles Perrault

Les noces ne furent pas plus tôt faites, que la belle-mère fit éclater sa mauvaise humeur; elle ne put souffrir les bonnes qualités de cette jeune enfant, qui rendaient ses filles encore plus haïssables. Elle la chargea des plus viles occupations de la maison : c’était elle qui nettoyait la vaisselle et les montées, qui frottait la chambre de madame, et celles de mesdemoiselles ses filles. Elle couchait tout en haut de la maison, dans un grenier, sur une méchante paillasse, pendant que ses sœ urs étaient dans des chambres parquetées, où elles avaient des lits des plus à la mode, et des miroirs où elles se voyaient depuis les pieds jusqu’à la tête.

No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over but the stepmother began to show herself in her true colors. She could not bear the good qualities of this pretty girl, and the less because they made her own daughters appear the more odious. She employed her in the meanest work of the house. She scoured the dishes, tables, etc., and cleaned madam’s chamber, and those of misses, her daughters. She slept in a sorry garret, on a wretched straw bed, while her sisters slept in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, on beds of the very newest fashion, and where they had looking glasses so large that they could see themselves at their full length from head to foot.


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?”