Nadirisms 15-17: Aunt-Shylock, Letter to a Young Poet, & Anachronism
A young writer wrote to me:
Everyone says (so he says) that you must write the way people speak. So, of course, I stenographically transcribed a conversation among my characters and included it in a draft, which you, Mr. Nadir, said was awful.* So what am I to believe?
The truth, my dear young writer, is that you really must write the way people speak, only there is a small “but.” “To be sure,” as Leyzerlye says, you must write the way people speak, that is, the way people who are excellent writers speak.**
However to write the way people who can’t speak speak… Well, there’s obviously no merit in that!
A yunger shrayber shraybt mir:
Ale zogn (makht er) az m’darf shraybn azoy vi m’redt. Destvegn hob ikh stenografish ibergeshribn a shmues ts[v]ishn mayne heldn un es ibergegebn in an eskiz, hot ir kh’ Nadir gezogt az se toyg nisht. Vu iz der emes?
Der emes, mayn liber younger shrayber, iz az m’darf take shraybn vi m’redt, nor mit a kleynem ober. “Un tsvor,” vi leyzerlye zogt, m’darf shraybn azoy vi es redt eyner vos ken zeyer gut shraybn.
Tsu shraybn ober azoy, vi s’redn mentshn vos kenen nit redn...iz zikher keyn mayle nisht!
I once said, somewhat carelessly, that Madam Art is a kind of Aunt-Shylock, she wants nothing other than her pound of flesh.
I forgot, however, to say that she doesn’t require her pound of flesh to come from the same place on every artist.
With some artists, she’ll take her pound of flesh right from their hearts. With others, she’ll take it from their buttocks.
Ikh hob mikh amol aroysgekhapt, az di madam kunstikhe iz a mume-shylok--zi farlangt nisht andersh vi dos gantse funtele fleysh.
Ikh hob ober fargesn tsu zogn, az nisht bay yedn kunst-makher fodert zi dos funt fleysh fun dem zelbn ort.
Bay a teyl mentshn, zemt zi dos funt fleysh fun same arum’n harts, bay andere ober nemt zi es in gezes-fleysh.
Some writers represent people from the past in such a way that one gets the impression that years and years ago--all men were grandfathers and all women grandmothers!
A teyl shrayber gibn di mentshn fun der alter tsayt azoy, az m’bakumt dem ayndruk, az mit yorn krik zenen ale mantsbiln geven zeydes, un ale froyen--bobes!
By Moyshe Nadir
Translated by Corbin Allardice
*- Nadir appears to be addressed as Khaver Nadir (Comrade Nadir), suggesting this discussion to be in the context of Nadir’s work with Proletpen or some other left-affiliate organization. To maximize clarity, I chose to render it as “mr.” and leave the context to those who read the footnotes.
**- I do not know who this Leyzerlye (לייזערליע) is. The only reference I can find to such a name is a character’s uncle in a play of Nadir’s.