Silver Linings (5) “Hearken!” or 侧耳倾听

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe


“True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.”

Recently in my literary translation class I asked the students to choose a famous short story in English and to find the translation in their source language and assess how successful the translator was at recreating tone, voice, style, word choice etc. Much to my surprise and delight, many of the students chose Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Tell-Tale Heart.” It is a story that speaks to all times, but somehow seems to especially speak to our particular time.

In French the title is “Le Coeur Révélateur” which offers a nice interior rhyme. Julio Cortázar’s translation in Spanish flows but does away with Poe’s sublime punctuation. The Arabic is beautiful to see:

tell tale 3

But best of all for me was the Chinese translation of “Hearken!” — “侧耳倾听” literally meaning: “Turn your ear to someone and listen patiently with your heart.”

So Hearken! everyone.

And maybe stage a reading of “The Tale-Tale Heart” at the dinner table tonight?






6 Replies to “Silver Linings (5) “Hearken!” or 侧耳倾听”

      1. Yes, we do. I adore Mindy! It’s been a while since I’ve seen her. Please send her a big fat kiss from me (virtually of course) when you next see her.

  1. loving these Jenny  great writings  how r u all doing?  we are well including full set of grandparents at the mo.  Melanie xx  (Bertram was due to have a job involving filming in the US next month  you never know he  may be looking you up – though not till later in the year!! )  mxx

    1. Oh so great to hear from you Melanie! We’re all cooped up here in NYC getting to know and love one another again:) Tommaso working on Q-Bits (Quantum Computing) and Leandro in acting school at NYU. Ayane remains a miracle. We would LOVE to see Bertram when all this craziness blows over. In the meantime, stay well. We miss London! Though it seems both of our countries are in the loo. xxj

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