Friday, 30 March 2018

HCA: 'Skriveren' in English translation

[The Penman]

There was once an official who had a job that required good penmanship, he was capable at his job of writing, but incapable of penmanship, so he put an advertisement in the newspaper for someone who wrote nicely, and got so many replies he could have filled a whole bin with them. One was enough, so the man took the first one he read, whose handwriting was as naturally and beautifully regular as the print of a typewriter. The official was a talented writer, and since what was written now appeared in finely formed lettering on the page, everyone said: That is an elegant piece of writing. ‘That’s thanks to me,’ said the man who was worth no more than a sixpence, and when he had heard this said about the piece for a whole week, he became overweeningly proud and wanted to be the official himself. He could really have become a good writing teacher and looked fine in a white cravat at tea parties; but now he was intent on denigrating all other writers, and he started to write about painters and sculptors, about poets and those who compose music, he wrote a load of utter rubbish, and when it was too preposterous, he wrote the next day that it was due to a printing error. Everything he wrote was a printing error, and his misfortune was that in the printed word no one could see the lovely handwriting, which was his main asset. I can crush, I can elevate, I am one hell of a chap, a miniature god almighty, and not all that tiny either! This was all balderdash and he died of it and people said… Wasn’t it a dreadful shame!... A fairytale to be embroidered on by the man capable of writing fairytales – but his life-story – blether, blather, blarney – with the best will in the world, made but a poor fairytale.

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