Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll

He has to sharpen his voice somewhat for the three of them to hear, because all the words have to come across, that’s how poetry is, those are the rules, that’s how it should be, must be, writing is a war and maybe authors experience more defeat than victory, that’s just how it is, Gísli had explained, losing himself in his explanation, there was a gleam in his eye, as if he were really alive. He’d read over the five pages that the boy had translated of Mr. Dickens’ story, A Tale of Two Cities . It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In this story there are few mistakes, few defeats, making the job of the translator more difficult, yet happier. The boy said nothing, had the five pages in front of him, in some places marked up by Gísli, the translation, the tireless work, anguish, sweat, joy, delicate movement between languages, shredded by the comments of the headmaster who talked and talked, the boy looked at the pages and the anger welled up inside him. It certainly would be nice to wad up the pages, make a big ball and stuff it into Gísli, deep into his throat, that dark tunnel. There’s no need to vaunt yourself on compliments from me, pride is poison, said Gísli, his voice suddenly prickly. Compliments!, exclaimed the boy, breaking into a smile without realizing it, his eyes still on the marked-up pages; compliments, he repeated, because it’s called a compliment to tear apart a work into which you’ve put your all, your heart, lungs, breath. The boy looks in astonishment at Kolbeinn, sitting right next to him, his eyes closed, as if sleeping, though with his left ear turned toward them, catching every word. Yes, said Gísli, I call it a compliment


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