Saturday, January 08, 2011

Zut Alors, M. Steele!

Somehow I'm just now catching up with the story of how Republican world-class embarrassment National Chairman Michael Steele said his favorite book was War and Peace and then rattled off the first sentence of Tale of Two Cities--"it was the best of  times, it was the worst of times."

I'm inclined to cut the guy some slack here. W&P does, let's admit it, have one of the most off-putting openers of any major novel.  I mean, how much can you do with:

Well, prince, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than possessions, estates of the Bounaparte family.
So the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation.  No, wait: that's the footnote version.  The real text is:
"Eh bien, mon prince, GĂȘnes et Lucques ne sont plus que des apanages, des estates, de la famille Buonaparte.
Got it?  Even though this is a translation, P/V want to make it clear to their readers that Tolstoi's Russian aristos all speak in the tongue of cheese-eating surrender monkeys.  Perhaps a more suitably Republican choice would have been
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
..thereby uniting hostility to the estate tax and support for the Defense of Marriage Act together in a single sentence.  Or, seeing as how his main goal is to keep his job, he might have settled for:

Call me, Ishmael.  But just as long as  you call me for dinner.

Michael?  It's Ishmael on line two.

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