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I'm pleased to announce a new release from the Nepenthes Press: Eulogy for the very precious liquor Absinthe by Ernest Tisserand. It's now available at the VAM Bookshop.

This is the second of the series from the Nepenthes Press showcasing unpublished or hard-to-find literature from the absinthe era, and is the first published English translation of this wonderful work.

The pictures speak for themselves - Mike has outdone himself.
Who did the translation?
Mike Hunt.
How does it compare with the translation you worked on?
This IS my tranlsation, AFAIK.
Probably fishier, Provenance.
Like sardines on a hair brush.
QUOTE(Artemis @ Dec 13 2006, 06:51 PM) *
Mike Hunt.

Didn't he actually collaborate with Bickus Dickus?
Artemis did the major work with some tweaking by some familiar names. Take a look here.

The Standard Deviant
Is the typeface cast in metal or is it wooden?
As I remember, that translation was difficult. Lots of obscure references, obsolete language, and poetic phrasing that didn't translate so well into English. Oxy was a tough editor and bounced a lot of it back at me, several times, for refinement. He also sought help in some fairly rarified air, academically speaking. In the end, the wording remained largely my work, but there was input from other people for sure. I haven't seen the page cited by Nepenthes - the grunt work was shopped out of Haven't seen the version by Nepenthes, but I hope to soon.

Tisserand is the patron saint of HGers, for reasons that are obvious from the text.
You should have your copy soon. It went out yesterday. Thank you for all of the hard work.

As for the type, it is done with a polymer process.
Having now seen the page at, I realize I forgot to credit Peter and his wife. Their suggestions were very helpful. I'm not sure what the input of the academic types was, but in the end the absinthe freaks prevailed, because Oxy didn't come back at me with much of what they said, if anything. You have to love the stuff like Tisserand did to get him, I guess.
The final translation used here is subtly different from the original version Artemis produced. It's still overwhelmingly his work, but there are some additional contributions from Peter and Sabine (who had also helped initially), and some additional editing from my part.
There are three reasons for the changes:
1. I wanted this version to be a slightly more accessible, more readable (if inevitably then occasionally slightly less technically precise) than the original version. To this end I made a few small changes.
2. Peter and Sabine went through the text carefully again and made extensive and very useful suggestions (I believe Sabine's parents, and some neighbours and friends looked at it as well).
3 Subsequent to the initial translation Peter found a different contemporary French printing of this essay, and picked up some small variations between the two texts.

Artemis is absolutely right about the extreme difficulty of the French text, and the translation is a real credit to him. I showed the original French version to several native French speaking friends who threw up their hands in either horror or despair. There are still a few lines, which though perfectly accurately translated, are mystifying in both English and French. One needs to have drunk several large glasses of pre-ban for instance before
they are growing old together like ... two brown walnuts in the basket of a dead Negresse

makes sense...

But it's a unique, wonderfully poetic, and for me, very moving piece of work. I'm very grateful for Artemis for allowing Mike to use his core translation - self evidently, without it, the book wouldn't exist. And Mike of course has done an absolutely remarkable job of the printing and production - like Kirk, he is a true artist in his medium.

Let me close by quoting my favorite passage from the piece, which gives you a good flavour of Tisserand's style:

There are no sweeter names than those borne by the plants from which this mild liquor is distilled. And I don't know in all the world of plants more vivid and more proud. They are the very flower of the spirited hyssop, the fennel that scents the mullet grilled for kings, the melissa that restores color to swooning women, the anise that makes food resound, the angelica embedded like sticks of joy in children's gingerbread, the star anise nurtured by mandarins like the Dutch tend their tulips, the coriander that bleaches the saliva, the mint that drives love, the oregano that makes the eyes of maidens shine, and it is the wormwood finally, the grande wormwood and the petite, chaste ornament of the mountains and seashores , daughter of the pure high winds, wheat of virgin spaces, emblem of untamed freedom.
QUOTE(Oxygenee @ Dec 14 2006, 12:27 AM) *

The final translation used here is subtly different from the original version Artemis produced.

Those differences are why I asked why I asked about the translator. Great authors receive awards and fame, great translators receive anonymity. Artisinal printers and binders have to be content with their endless supply of nubile groupies.
I'm anonymous even when credited, since Artemis isn't a "real" person. I've never made a cent from any translation, either, but I'm not too bothered by that.

I seem to remember Oxy had taken, or proposed to take, the piece to Oxford or Cambridge or some such bastion of Brit pederasty - that's what I meant by the academics. I don't know how that worked out. I do remember Sabine was asked to look at it, and that even Frogs were discomfited by it.

The dry walnut thing was not a stretch whatsover to me. I grew up on a plantation in the far south. All of the white people and some of the black people spoke French. White people always called a black woman a Negresse and black man a Negre (pronounced more or less "neg"). There was nothing particularly negative about that, it was simply descriptive - they were dark. A lot of dark white people were also called "Neg" as a nickname. Now, the black women wore the tignon (sp?) on their heads (picture Aunt Jemima) and carried baskets for shopping, gathering herbs, and such. Picture an abandoned house, once inhabited by such a woman. She's long dead. Her basket is still in the kitchen, with some nuts in it, now dry and shrivelled with age. My boyhood friends and I explored more than one such house and found many such items. It's poetic and it's dead-on reality. Tisserand lived in such a world. Mine, in a place trapped in such a time capsule that it wasn't 50 years or even 10 years removed from his, was easily recognizable in Tisserand's work, even the crab claws drying in the sun on a midden. Every house had such a dump nearby. That was the most enjoyable translation I've ever done.
Interesting. Thank you for the insights.
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