I have now finished reading “My Dagestan”. Rather than write my own review, I’ll let you read someone else’s.
As for the translation – while generally more florid and verbose than the Avar (put side-by-side, the Russian is noticeably longer) it is in most parts close enough to the original to make some sense of it.
But it is not without problems. Large parts remain untranslated, including many amusing anecdotes, and, notably, poems. Gamzatov justifies his choice of a Russian translator who does not know Avar, saying that only a poet can properly convey another poet’s thoughts. Yet it’s exactly the poems that often go untranslated, or the translations of other translators are quoted; in some cases, they even get “translated” into prose.
Apart from the omissions, many texts appear jarringly out of sequence, leading one to skip back and forth in the Avar original to find the matching parts. Incomplete parts are puzzlingly omitted as if torn off mid-paragraph, and “sewn together” in the Russian, yet one can still sense their absence.
And there are unexplained additions and mistranslations (some of which have been pointed out by a reader). It all gives the impression of a rushed and even indifferent job.
I talked about translating directly from the original. But it’s not possible now – I still don’t know Avar all that well, the task is enormous, and there’s simply no demand for it.
So I will leave it for now. But perhaps, in some far-off future, it could happen.
Or, if you can’t wait, you could just learn Avar yourself, to get the full flavor (and “volume”) of the original – something that no translation could give you.
Гьалеха лъугIана. Гьанже нилъее ратIалъизе заман щвана. Цо-цояз абухъе, аллагьас хъван батани, нахъе-нахъеги дандчIвала.
Вот и все. Пора нам расстаться. Как говорится, бог даст, еще встретимся.
That’s it. The time for us to part has come. As they say, we’ll meet again, God willing.
Thus “My Dagestan” bids goodbye to the reader.
And with that I bid goodbye to “My Dagestan” as well. Васалам, вакалам!