Short story by Vasiliy Sholokhov

Greetings, IQfy,

I made an amateur translation of a short story by Vasiliy M. Shukshin into English, and what's a better place to share it than here. If you like social realism, Russian existentialism, and sauna, then I hope you will find this a good read.

Attaching the English-only as well as the bilingual version.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1W1l-0QanC08AFXyngSdya_gZ_kYpXG8y/view?usp=drive_link
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1osALe0o7lKuOqnkwsXM_ekrQPQAqQV0-/view?usp=drive_link

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  1. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    I don't know russian but I find it an interesting choice of making Alyosha talk in the equivalent of a midwesterner(?) dialect. I assume that's an attempt to translate a rougher way of speaking as opposed to "Standard Russian"

    Very comfy short story.
    The description of his whole relaxation ritual while preparing the Banya were more relaxing than the part of the banya itself. It's almost always like this in life; the anticipation being the best part of an event

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Thank you for the feedback!

      Yes, I did try to make the main character sound like a hillbilly/redneck-type person, after all in the original he also aapears to be somehat simple-minded. Additionally, I'm more exposed to American English than British English.

      Right, this story always helped me through more stressful times, so I'm very happy to share the comfy feeling it gives off with other people.

  2. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Good stuff anon

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Thank you, anon!

  3. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Really cool. Any chance you've posted translation comparisons before? Your format looks familiar.

    I've made a backup in this folder along with some books an anon nicely ocr'd from pdfs a few years back:
    >https://mega.nz/folder/e8NRyRZJ#YI9AnuHT6LAPvN-RG5mQ7A
    I'll gladly take any other translations you've done and put up copies. I think an anon did some Mashima translations, so I should try digging those up (though if I've found the right guy he's started putting them behind a paywall).

    You can email me at [email protected] if you'd like.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Hey there!

      No, this is my debut translation, you must be confusing me with someone else.

      Thank you, really appreciate it! I've nothing else to share as of now since this is the first and only translation as of now, but I will send you a revised version of the text a little later, one of the anons has already pointed out some typos I made.

  4. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Some typos I spotted:
    >p3: "He casted [cast]"
    >p4: end-quotes appear at the wrong point on the line starting "Fifteen rubles"
    >p7: "husbands, wifes [wives], and kids"
    >p8: "all he knew was [were] some folk sing-song"

    Some of it was a little stilted, but it was nice in the end.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Aaaahhh, it's the little things that I always struggle with. I guess I'll never perfect these since I'm an ESL. Regardless, thank you for pointing these out, I will make the alterations where needed.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      BTW, could you please elaborate a bit on the "stilted" part?

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        The dialogue is a bit stiff (though I wouldn't necessarily blame you for that), and there are a few words used that are technically correct, but feel a little weird in context:
        >p2: "He cut the logs pedantically" [it may I'm just used to seeing this in a different context (i.e. an insult, typically literary-ish); "carefully" or "deliberately" would be similar, but don't capture all of what "pedantically" means]
        >p3: "samey [similar] lives"
        >p3: "Cannot [can't] help but wonder"
        >p4: "Could be in their genetics [genes]"
        >p7: "still look down upon anyone [everyone] else"
        >p8: "he sang unwittingly" ["absent-mindedly" might be a better fit]
        Then other things like repetitions of certain phrases ("in front of a client"/"in front of their clients"), but I'd imagine those come from the source work rather than you. Same could go for some of what I pointed out, so if you feel you've got it correct I wouldn't push it; again, these are all technically correct.

        Then a tense change I noticed:
        >p6: "Right now, neither Sonya nor Taisia were" [ could be "At that moment"?]

        Anyway, definitely post more translations if you do any in the future. Rough edges or not, it's really cool.

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          I see, thank you so much for taking your time to point these out. Yeah, the words you suggested do seem to be the better picks, I will make the replacements where necessary. Admittedly, some of the repetitions do come from the original text, but omitting them can definitely be a good thing in the transaltion.

          I'll do my best to make some more, but feel like it's gonna take some time... I've been reading too little recently, gotta dedicate more time to it.

  5. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Never had I felt so tense yet calm when reading a story. When you mentioned existentialism I was expecting some sort of dark twist, but no. It's just a man enjoying his Saturdays
    I bet the anticipation of his next sauna is what kept Alyosha sane and free from other more dangerous vices
    >picrel, it's Alyosha

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Thank you for reading, glad you enhoyed it!

      Yes, I might've gone too far calling it existential. There is no dread, but the main character still thinks of death, plus he shunned by the society he is in, so the tragedy is still there.

      Yes you are SO RIGHT about the picrel

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        >plus he shunned by the society he is in, so the tragedy is still there.

        The more I think about this story the more I think of this quote
        "it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society"
        Soviet Russia definitely fits the bill of a sick society.
        And yet, Alyosha is happy in his life. He provides his family with enough to live in a relatively poor but stable enviroment, essentially the middle class of those times. He is a good mannered man, loves his children (he stopped smoking for their sake), is generous with his neighbors and hard-working (when it isn't a weekend)
        Had he been a violent drunkard that neglected his family, perhaps he wouldn't be as shunned as he is.

        >Nobody here can admire Alyosha’s kindness and affection, the city people definitely would.

        I feel that many russian short stories don't try to give the story a positive or negative tone. They simply happened and the narrator is telling you what happened. I see how you may see it somewhat tragic, while for me, it reads like a comfy yet slightly melancholic slice of life.
        Good stuff OP. Are you Russian by any chance? I had never heard of this writer before, and I see that he had few translations done. I commend you for your effort!

        • 1 month ago
          Anonymous

          Right, prior to translating the story I had read some related studies, and everywhere people say that the story does touch upon the bigger picture as well. Unfortunately, I failed to properly translate Alyosha's last name—Beskonvoinyi—which literally means "convoyless", "|without a convoy", implying that he is free from the, for the lack of a better word, gulag that all other people are complacent with. And everybody else shuns him because he is a misfit, he does not want to be part of the system—he refuses to follow the new order and decides to go back to tradition.

          Well said, the story does seem both comfy and melancholic. Can't help but feel bad for how the protagonist can't be sincere even with his wife and kids, but also feel nice whenever he is preoccupied with his hobby.

          Yes, I am Russian, English is my second language. Majored in translation, and this translation was just something I did for fun. Thank you so much for the overview of my translation!

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Hm, interesting that thing about the name. You could say that part of his personality is predicted when he decides to leave his group of soldiers from the train to join the femme fatale.
            >“I’ll leave with another convoy tomorrow, they’re a dime a dozen!”
            He never really had that much of loyalty to the "collective".
            >This is a collective farm we’re working on!”

            Perhaps this is the author's way of rebelling against the system, the same way Alyosha treats his banya afternoon as almost sacred, not allowing anything to interrupt it.
            Could it be said that this is a protest against the Soviet Union? Perhaps, but it's more likely that I'm already overanalyzing this story.
            Keep up the good work anon! I'd love to read more russian short stories. They rarely miss

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            Don't forget that he also "fell in love" with that girl 😀

            I feel like it is a general notion that all of the Soviet authors critiqued the Soviet system in one way or another. Despite the censorship, there are plenty of Soviet-made books and movies that make fun of USSR in a sarsastic way. There is this Soviet movie made in 1988, it shows a couple cuddling after sex, and one asks another,
            "So what is your goal in life?"
            "Sweetie, we have one and the same goal—communism!"
            As you know, after three years since the movie's release, the Union collapsed.

            I'll do my best to post some more!

          • 1 month ago
            Anonymous

            It's curious how at first glance it's just a story about a man preparing his banya and reminiscing on the past, but at a deeper glance it's deeper than that. The subtlety in expressing these themes are necessary for these stories though

  6. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    thank you for this, anon.
    will read when I’m off work.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Sure, take your time! Do post your feedback—I would be happy to receive critique too.

  7. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Thanks Max.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Thank you for your attention too, hope you enjoyed it!

  8. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Hey there everyone, made some alterations to the translation, here are the links!

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wro0cvx72yh_trz03BA2jgNjIACIIE6I/view?usp=drive_link

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VIhXB67nz0GP9nIJG-r_Qi_mR_BSb6Od/view?usp=drive_link

  9. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Cool story anon, I liked the part where he prepares the spa

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Glad you liked it! Hahah, my gramps is gonna love hearing his banya called a "spa" 😀

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