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“Hills Like White Elephants” By Ernest Hemingway ETI 306 Advanced Literary Translation
Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961) Hemingway was an American writer of novels and short stories. Before turning to fiction, he worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star and served as a First World War ambulance driver before enlisting with the Italian infantry and suffering a wound. After the war, he worked for the Toronto Star and lived for a time in Paris and Key West, Fla. During the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War, he served as a newspaper correspondent, then lived in Cuba until 1958 and Idaho until 1961, the year of his death by suicide. His narratives frequently contain masculine motifs, such as bull- fighting (Death in the Afternoon), hunting (The Green Hills of Africa), war (A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls), and fishing (The Old Man and the Sea). All of these motifs derive from Hemingway’s own experiences as a traveler and an adventurer. Arguably, he was a better short-story writer than a novelist, although it was his longer works that built his reputation.
Ernest Hemingway First published in August of 1927, “Hills Like White Elephants” became an important piece in Hemingway's second collection of short stories, Men WithoutWomen. Hemingway wrote the story soon after the publication of his 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, while living in Paris. His first major novel, The Sun Also Rises chronicled the postwar experiences of what his friend Gertrude Stein called the "lost generation" of WWI. ‘Lost Generation’ is a term for the U.S. writers of the post-WWI generation, coined in a remark by Gertrude Stein to Ernest Hemingway. Besides him they included Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, e.e. cummings and others. Their ideals shattered by the war, they felt alienated from the materialism of America in the 1920's, and many lived bohemian expatriate lives in Paris.
Hills Like White Elephants Men Without Women was well-received, as were Hemingway’s other early works. He was embraced by the expatriate literary community in Paris and received strong reviews on his work in the United States and abroad. Although he continued to write novels and stories throughout his career, the early short stories are often considered to be among his finest works. ‘‘Hills Like White Elephants,’’ is one of Hemingway’s most anthologized and much-discussed stories, possibly because of the way used dialogue to convey the “meaning” of the story with no description, very little narration, no identification of character or even intent. We have no clear ideas about the nature of the discussion (abortion); the dialogue conveys everything that we conclude about the characters. The story offers a glimpse at the spare prose and understated dialogue that represents Hemingway’s mastery of style.
Elements of fiction Setting: a train station in the Ebro River (Zaragoza) valley of Spain; the time is not given, but it seems to be contemporary to the time the text was composed (1920s). The day is hot and dry, and the scenery in the valley is barren and mostly ugly. Characters: a man (referred to as "the American") and his female companion (whom he calls Jig); the two characters are a couple. Point of view: third-person point of view that limits the narration to what the characters say and do; it does not reveal their thoughts, (narrator does not reveal anything about the characters and never states what the characters is arguing about. Readers must interpret the dialogue to infer their backgrounds and their attitudes about the situation, and toward one another.
Elements of fiction Plot summary: The story, told almost entirely through dialogue, is a conversation between a young woman, Jig, and a man, the American, waiting for a train in Spain. As they talk, it becomes clear that the young woman is pregnant and that the man wants her to have an abortion. (Though it is never stated explicitly in the text, it is made clear through some contextual clues that Jig is pregnant and that the ‘operation’ in question is an abortion). The American and Jig drink beer and a liquor called Anis del Toro while waiting for the train to Madrid. Jig compares the drink to licorice. Their conversation is, at first, ordinary small talk, yet it quickly turns to the subject of an operation which the American tries to convince Jig to undergo.
Elements of fiction Plot (cont’d): After putting forward some arguments which the American does not respond much, Jig eventually agrees to undergo the operation but then she tries to change the subject. The American who seems to be unsure of Jig's intentions and mental state tries to keep on the subject. As the train approaches, he carries their bags to the platform, has another drink alone and then joins Jig. She smiles at him, tells him that she is "fine", and the story ends. Much is revealed about the personalities of the couple through their tight, brittle conversation, while at the same time, much about their relationship remains hidden. At the end of the story it is still unclear as to what decision has or has not been made, or what will happen to these two characters waiting for a train on a platform in Spain.
Elements of fiction Themes: Even though it is quite short and made up of mostly dialogues, "Hills Like White Elephants" contains different themes. It deals with concepts such as the conflict between personal responsibility and hedonism, rhetorical and psychological manipulation, coming of age, and the dynamics of the romantic relationship and its transformation into the notion of family. More generally, it could also be a statement about the intellectual, cultural and moral climate of the Roaring 20’s and the lifestyles and attitudes of the post-WW I "Lost Generation" of American expatriates in Europe.
Elements of fiction Themes (cont’d) Confronting the Future: Jig and the American have been traveling in Europe from hotel to hotel in pursuit of pleasure. However, Jig expresses dissatisfaction with their nomadic existence, especially now that she is pregnant. She apparently wants to have the baby and settle down to a normal life, symbolized from her perspective by the greenery and thriving grain fields on one side of the station. He wants her to abort their baby so that they can continue their adventures. Inability to Communicate Effectively: Jig and the American have difficulty articulating their feelings. Rather than bluntly stating their views, they imply, hint, euphemize.
Elements of fiction Themes (cont’d) Selfishness: The man appears to be manipulating Jig in order to maintain a lifestyle in which she is a convenient outlet for his libido. He is even willing to sacrifice a human life, Jig’s unborn child, so that he can continue their joyride. Too Much of a Good Thing: Jig and the American have apparently been living a life of excess. Consequently, life is no longer fun for Jig. When she samples a strong and dangerous liqueur to try to revive her interest in their great adventure, she says disappointedly that “everything tastes like licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited for so long, like absinthe.” Clearly, she is ready to abandon their dissipated way of life to settle down. Evasion of Responsibility: The American seems unable to accept responsibility, for whatever reason. Rather than facing the challenges of normal life, he continually puts them off.
Analysis Symbolism: In the beginning of the story, Jig draws a simile by describing the hills across the barren valley as looking like white elephants? While Jig possibly sees the child as an extraordinary addition to her ordinary life of drinking and mindless traveling, the American could be seeing the baby as a white elephant and not want to raise it because of the cost. The symbolism of the hills and the big white elephant can be thought of as the image of the swollen breasts and abdomen of a pregnant woman, and might refer to the prenatal dream of the mother of the future Buddha in which a white elephant (in this case, a symbol of prestigious leadership) enters her womb.
Analysis Some parts of the setting may symbolize the tension and conflict surrounding the couple: the train tracks form a dividing line between the barren expanse of land stretching toward the hills on one side and the green, fertile farmland on the other, symbolizing the choice faced by each of the main characters and their differing interpretations of the dilemma of pregnancy. At the end of the story, the American picks up their luggage and carries it to the "other tracks" on the opposite side of the station, symbolizing his sense of primacy in making the decision to give up their child and betraying his insistence to Jig that the decision is entirely in her hands.
Analysis The name Jig, given as a pet name by the lover of the female character and the fact that her real name is never given may be symbolically significant, too. Possible meanings of ‘jig’ an old slang term for sexual intercourse, a vivacious Celtic dance, any of several different kinds of tools (whiskey measurer, fishing lure, woodworking tool, etc.) ‘the jig is up’: it's all over All of this could imply that the American views Jig as more of a loving object or tool than a person with feelings and values to be respected.
Style Hemingway’s writing style, which is simple, direct, and unadorned prose, stirred a great deal of comment and controversy. Before Hemingway, American writers were influenced by British mannerisms. They used many adjectives one after another; strings of adverbs, many colons and semicolons which hindered the flow of paragraphs, and caused readers to become agitated. Then came Hemingway with his plain style—simple and compact, with short sentences and paragraphs devoid of verbosity and adjectives and adverbs are few. Hemingway leaves himself out and says as little as possible while letting the characters do the speaking.
Style When Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1954, his writing style was singled out as one of his foremost achievements. The committee recognized his “forceful and style-making mastery of the art of modern narration.” Hemingway has often been described as a master of dialogue; he accomplishes the effect of the dialogues by calculated emphasis and repetition that makes the reader remember what has been said. The writing style of Hemingway, which was certainly not spontaneous, may be due to his journalistic training. When he worked as a journalist, he learned to report facts crisply and succinctly. He was also an obsessive revisionist.
Translation strategy and potential problems A stylistic approach will be followed in the translation of the short story, since the aspect of style appears to central in the story. Possible challenges include the symbolism in the story and the translation of some culture-specific terms. Also due to the lack of a traditional plot, the dialogues that basically tell the story need to be translated very carefully.
Translating symbolism white elephant (beyaz fil): a valuable possession which its owner cannot dispose of and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) exceeds its usefulness. The term derives from the sacred white elephants kept by Southeast Asian monarchs in Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. To possess a white elephant was regarded as a sign that the monarch was ruling with justice and the kingdom was blessed with peace and prosperity. The tradition derives from tales in the scriptures which associate a white elephant with the birth of Buddha, as his mother was reputed to have dreamed of a white elephant presenting her with a lotus flower, a symbol of wisdom and purity, on the eve of giving birth. Because the animals were considered sacred and laws protected them from labor, receiving a gift of a white elephant from a monarch was both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because the animal was sacred and a sign of the monarch's favor, and a curse because the animal had to be kept and could not be put to practical use to offset the cost of maintaining it.
Numeric symbolism The story is obviously an open text, but there are several binaries: the two landscapes on the two sides to the valley-fertile green side vs. barren desert side, two choices for the decision, to have the abortion or not, one side of the valley has “fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro” in stark contrast to the white hills where there is little life, two railway tracks at the station, to Madrid or Barcelona, again, to have or not have abortion; The train they initially wait for is going TOWARDS Madrid and AWAY from Barcelona. The text states they are coming FROM the Barcelona train/side. The abortion would presumably happen in Madrid, the heart and capital of Spain. An abortion, as well as absinthe, at the time would have been illegal in the U.S. the American not only seems to put the luggage on the other side, the fertile side, but he also does not see the train, which is important because everyone else can see the Madrid train that is five minutes away — but Jig’s lover looks up for the train and sees nothing — meaning he is looking towards the other side, towards the side that awaits the train going back to Barcelona (no- abortion-train).
Translating specific vocabulary licorice (meyan kökü): both a sweet candy and an ingredient used in medicine as a purgative. absinthe (pelin otu): a green liqueur having a bitter anise or licorice flavor and a high alcohol content, prepared from absinthe and other herbs, and now prohibited in many countries because of its toxicity Anis del toro: an alcoholic drink that is dark in color and tastes like licorice. The name is Spanish for "The Bull's Anise" aniseed (anason): the aromatic seed of anise, the oil of which is used in the manufacture of anethole, in medicine as a carminative and expectorant, and in cookery and liqueurs for its licorice-like flavor dos cervezas: in Spanish, “Two beers” reale: old silver coin that was used in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries
Beyaz Filden Tepeler (Tr. Bahar Çelik) Ebro vadisi boyunca tepeler yüksek ve bembeyazdı. Bu tarafta ne bir a ğ aç ne de bir gölge vardı ve tren istasyonu güne ş in altında, iki demiryolu hattının tam ortasındaydı. İ stasyonun hemen yanına binanın ılık gölgesi vuruyordu ve bara açılan kapıya, sineklerin girmemesi için bambu boncuklarından dizilmi ş bir perde asılıydı. Amerikalı ve beraberindeki kız dı ş arıya, gölgedeki masaya oturdular. Hava çok sıcaktı ve Barselona’dan gelecek olan hızlı trenin gelmesine henüz kırk dakika vardı. Tren iki demir yolunun birle ş ti ğ i bu kav ş akta iki dakika duraklayıp Madrid’e devam edecekti. “Ne içsek acaba?” diye sordu kız. Ş apkasını çıkarıp masanın üzerine koydu. “Hava çok sıcak,” dedi adam. “Bira içelim.” Adam “Dos cervezas,” diye seslendi perdeye do ğ ru. “Büyük boy mu?” diye sordu kadının biri kapıdan. “Evet, iki büyük boy.” Kadın iki bira ve iki tane de bardakaltlı ğ ı getirdi. Bardakaltlıklarını ve bira bardaklarını masaya koyarken adama ve kıza baktı. Kız sıra sıra tepelere do ğ ru bakıyordu. Güne ş in altında bembeyaz görünüyorlardı, kırlarsa kuru ve kahverengiydi. “Beyaz fillere benziyorlar” dedi kız. “Ben hiç beyaz fil görmedim,” dedi adam ve birasından bir yudum aldı “Görmemi ş sindir.” “Görmü ş olabilirim. Senin görmemi ş olabilece ğ imi söylemen hiçbir ş ey kanıtlamıyor.” Kız boncuktan yapılma sinekli ğ e baktı. “Üzerine bir ş ey yazmı ş lar” dedi. “Ne yazıyor?” “Anis del Toro. Bir içki adı.” “Denesek mi?” Adam perdenin arkasına do ğ ru ba ğ ırdı, “Bakar mısınız?” Barın arkasından kadın çıktı. “Dört real(*)” “ İ ki Anis del Toro istiyoruz.”
BEYAZ FİLLERE BENZEYEN TEPELER (Tr. Müjde Dural) Ebro vadisinin kar ş ısındaki tepeler uçsuz bucaksız ve bembeyazdı, ne a ğ aç, ne de gölge vardı ve tren istasyonu iki demiryolu hattının ortasındaydı. İ stasyonun kar ş ısındaki bina sıcak bir gölge veriyordu, sinekler girmesin diye barın kapısına bambulardan yapılmı ş boncuklu sinekliklerden asılmı ş tı. Amerikalı adam ile yanındaki kız binanın dı ş ındaki gölgeli ğ e oturmu ş lardı, hava çok sıcaktı ve Barselona'dan gelecek olan expres trene daha 40 dakika vardı. Bu istasyonda iki dakika durup, Madrit'e gidecekti. Kız 'ne içsek?' diye sordu. Ş apkasını çıkartıp, masanın üzerine koymu ş tu. Adam "baya ğ ı sıcak" dedi. "Bira içelim" Adam kapıya do ğ ru "Dos cervezas" diye seslendi. Kapıdaki kadın "büyük mü olsun?" dedi. "Evet, iki büyük" Kadın iki büyük bardak bira ve bardak altlı ğ ı getirdi, masaya koydu, kıza ve adama baktı. Kız tepelere bakıyordu, tepeler güne ş ten bembeyaz gözüküyordu, her yer kurak ve kahverengiydi. Kız "beyaz fillere benziyorlar" dedi. Adam birasını içerken "bir tane bile görmedim" dedim. "Yok, sen göremezsin" "Görebilirdim, sadece senin demen hiçbir ş ey kanıntlamaz" Kız boncuklu sinekli ğ e baktı "Üzerine boyayla bir ş ey yazmı ş lar ne diyor?" "Anis del toro bir tür içkidir" "Biz de deneyelim mi?" Adam kapıya do ğ ru "iki anis del toro istiyoruz" diye seslendi.
Kadınsız Erkekler Author: Ernest Hemingway ISBN: 9752201741 Translated by: Ülkü Tamer Publisher: Bilgi Yayınevi Published: İ stanbul, Temmuz 2006 Pages: 173Ernest HemingwayBilgi Yayınevi Kitap Tanıtım Yazısından: Türkçede yayımlanmı ş tek yasal baskı. Nobel Edebiyat Ödüllü Hemingway'in romanları kadar ba ş arılı ve en az onlar kadar ünlü 14 öyküsü. Ahmet Yurdakul'un önsözü, Ülkü Tamer'in tertemiz çevirisiyle. Kısa, yalın cümleler kullanan, özgün sert tarzı ile bilinen ve "tragedya yazarlarının sonuncusu" olarak tanımlanan yazarın insanı sarsan anlatım yetene ğ iyle öykü okumanın tadına varacaksınız.