BrueghelUmberto Eco in his new book on lists – Vertigine della lista, to be published in November 2009 – dedicates a special place to Rabelais whose Gargantua and Pantagruel, published from 1532 in five books created the genre of absurd lists:

However, the author who seems to have produced his never ending lists only to kick the bottom of all the well ordered systems of the Sorbonne’s scholars was Rabelais. Obviously nothing can explain why he had to enumerate so many and so unprecedented ways of cleaning one’s own bottom, so many adjectives of the membrum virile, so many ways of massacring the enemy, so many and so useless books of the Saint Victor Abbey, so many races of snakes or so many kinds of games Gargantua was able to play (and God knows how he found time to play them all).

Accordingly, Eco has selected for his anthology several texts from Gargantua and Pantagruel, thus imposing a painful task on the translator, at least on the Hungarian translator.

In fact, Rabelais’ work has no complete Hungarian translation. Although the great juggler of Hungarian language György Faludy started to translate it and he even finished the first three books before slipping away from Hungary after the failed revolution of 1956, but the manuscripts remained here and got lost. In the 80’s some miracle brought to light the manuscripts of the second and third book narrating the adventures of the giant prince Pantagruel, and they were published at the University of Szeged in 1989, but it seems that that of the first book, recounting the very wonderful life of his father, king Gargantua, has been lost for ever. Brueghel, GyermekjátékokThe texts borrowed by Eco from this first book have to be translated again for the Hungarian version of the Vertigine della lista, while the translator must bear in mind the high standard set by Faludy in his Pantagruel.

There is for example the list mentioned last by Eco: the games known by Gargantua, two hundred and fifteen in number. There are more than one possibilities how to translate them. A philologist would probably give an exact translation of each name, adding in footnotes all the information he managed to collect about them. This “all”, however, is not too much. Just some years ago Yves Rifaux, researcher of the Musée de l’Art de l’Enfance in Annecy thought that most of them had been invented by Rabelais, until he managed to identify 190 of the 215 games. On the other hand, a verbatim translation of the French names (see their list in the above quoted article, with the modern French spelling in brackets) would resonate so few with the Hungarian reader that the list would completely lose the magic which this abundance of games produces for the French reader.

Rifaux was greatly supported in the identification of the games by the painting Children at play (1560) of Pieter Brueghel which represents more than two hundred children playing some eighty contemporary games. The games represented have been recently analyzed by Edward Snow, and the description of twenty of them can be also read on the site of the Avedon Museum and Archive of Games. The Hungarian avantgarde Colibri Theatre has recently created a ballett version of the painting, of which two videos have ben published.

id. Pieter Brueghel, Gyermekjátékok (1560)
The Italian translation quoted by Eco – Mario Bonfantini, Einaudi, 2005 – adopts a more eclectic approach. It takes over a number of names in an Italian form similar to the French ones even if there exists no Italian game of that name, and it replaces most of the rest with the names of existing Italian ones. This list is so beautiful, especially because of the many archaic and long names, and besides it is so hard to find elsewhere, that I quote it in full length. You will enjoy at least its melody.

a goffo, a chi fa l’uno fa l’altro, a primiera, alla sequenza, a vola, a domino, a piglia piglia, al tarocco, al trionfo, a cocchinverde, chi vince perde, alla Piccarda, al belinato, al cento, alla penitenza, alla sfilata, alla riffa, a disgrazia, a glic, alla furba, agli onori, a passadieci, alla morra, al trentuno, agli scacchi, a pari e sequenza, alla volpe, ai trecento, a campana, alla sfortunata, alla bianca, alla condannata, alla buona ventura, a carta voltata, a tre dadi, al malcontento, alle tavole, al lanzichenecco, a nic noc, a cucú, alla lurca, a chi ce l’ha lo dica, alla rana, a piglia, nada, gioca, fori, al birignao, all’accoppiata al trictrac, al nano, a tutte tavole, a dichiarare, a tavole voltate, a rinnegabío, al forzato, alla dama, alla babbuina, a primus, secundus, a piè di coltello, alla mosca, a franco il quadri, a pari o caffo, a testa o croce, a marmotta, agli aliossi, alla biglia, a ciabatta, al gufo, a caccialepre, alla tirintintana, a scappa scappa porcellino, alle gazze, al corno, a bue cacciato, a civetta, a pizzicato, a beccasú, all’asino vola, a toni-mini, a trotta trotta somarello, a dàgli arrí, a buricchetto, a son seduto, alla barba d’oribus, alla boschina, a tira spiedo, a botte in fiera, a compare dammi il sacco, a coglionmontone, a buttafuori, alle fiche di Marsiglia, alle chiavi, alle guardie, a scuoiaconiglio, a ramazza, a uncino-madama, a vender l’avena, al tizzone, alle risposte, a giudice vivo e giudice morto, al fabbroferraio, a scappa villano, ai sassolini, al gobbo in corte, a San Trovato, a pizzica orecchio, al pero, a pimpompetto, al trallalà, al circolo, alla troia, a pancia-a-pancia, alle vallette, a verghetta, a spannina, a ci sto anch’io, a spegnimoccolo, ai birilli, al volano, a piastrelle, a far centro, a prendi Roma, Brueghela toccamerda, al Siam, a boccia corta, alla greca, a rimbalzino, alla pentolaccia, a cosí mi piace, al mulinello, alle giuncate, a baston corto, alla prillavola, a mosca cieca, a picchetto, a gallina bianca, al lupo, al truccino, al castelletto, all’ínfilata, a fossette, alla ronfa, alla tromba, al monaco, a capinascondere, all’incantato, alla palla, alla spola, a sculaccioni, al manico di scopa, a San Tommaso ficcanaso, alle lumachine, a sei senza verde! a Quaresima, alla forcola, a saltacavallina, a tutti in fila, a peto in gola, a dammi la lancia Guglielmino, a brindello, ai tre covoni, alla betulla, a mosca pazza, a pesciolino mio diletto vieni, alle domande, a nove mani, a testa in giú, alla seggiolina, al cavallino, alla grulla, al gallo canta, a mosca cieca, a guardagli il muso, allo spione, al rospo, a pallamaglio, al pistone, al diabolo, alle regine, ai mestieri, a testa-a-testa o testa-a-piè, alla Pinotta, a mano morta, ai buffetti, a scuffia madama, a staccia buratta, al seminato, al ghiottone, al molinetto, a non si passa, alla giravolta, all’acculattata, al contadino, al gufo, a schioppetto matto, alla bestia morta, a monta monta la scaletta, al porcello morto, a cul per terra, a piccioncino, alla caccia al terzo, a scappellotto, a saltasiepe, a tagliar la strada, a scornabue, a maglia maglia batticulo, a è scappato l’uccellino, al passavanti, a far le fiche, alle pernacchie, a pestamostarda, allo zoppo, a chi ci casca, a salincerchio, a pigliatesta, alla gru, a taglia taglia, alla tecca, alle sberle, a buffettoni.

Encouraged by this approach, I have also adopted a similar way in the Hungarian translation. As the version of Faludy often actualizes the text for the sake of a better impression, often in an intentionally anachronistic way, I have also decided to substitute the two hundred and fifteen French games with the same number of existing Hungarian games, including some that Rabelais could have not known but are more familiar to the modern Hungarian reader. My sources were the most authentic: apart from my childhood memories, the practising mother Kinga, the practising children Eszter, Sára, Dodó and Ábel, and their practising teacher Ildikó who are completely up to date in this topic, and to whom I say thanks for their expert advice. You can see the list in the Hungarian version of this post. Here I include the English list from the 1894 translation by Sir Thomas Urquhart and Cromarty and Peter Anthony Motteux, which is also interesting to compare with the French and the Italian ones.

… at flush, at primero, at the beast, at the rifle, at trump, at the prick and spare not, at the hundred, at the peeny, at the unfortunate woman, at the fib, at the pass ten, at one-and-thirty, at post and pair, or even and sequence, at three hundred, at the unlucky man, at the last couple in hell, at the hock, at the surly, at the lansquenet, at the cuckoo, at puff, or let him speak that hath it, at take nothing and throw out, at the marriage, at the frolic or jackdaw, at the opinion, at who doth the one, doth the other, at the sequences, at the ivory bundles, at the tarots, at losing load him, at he’s gulled and esto, at the torture, at the handruff, at the click, at honours, at pinch without laughing, at prickle me tickle me, at the unshoeing of the ass, at the cocksess, at hari hohi, at I set me down, at earl beardy, at the old mode, at draw the spit, at put out, Brueghelat gossip lend me your sack, at the ramcod ball, at thrust out the harlot, at Marseilles figs, at nicknamry, at stick and hole, at boke or him, or flaying the fox, at the branching it, at trill madam, or grapple my lady, at the cat selling, at blow the coal, at the re-wedding, at the quick and dead judge, at unoven the iron, at the false clown, at the flints, or at the nine stones, at to the crutch hulch back, at the Sanct is found, at hinch, pinch and laugh not, at the leek, at bumdockdousse, at the loose gig, at the hoop, at the sow, at belly to belly, at the dales or straths, at the twigs, at the quoits, at I’m for that, at I take you napping, at fair and softly passeth Lent, at the forked oak, at truss, at the wolf’s tail, at bum to buss, or nose in breech, at Geordie, give me my lance, at swaggy, waggy or shoggyshou, at stook and rook, shear and threave, at the birch, at the muss, at the dilly dilly darling, at ox moudy, at purpose in purpose, at nine less, at blind-man-buff, at the fallen bridges, at bridled nick, at the white at butts, at thwack swinge him, at apple, pear, plum, at mumgi, at the toad, at cricket, at the pounding stick, at jack and the box, at the queens, at the trades, at heads and points, at the vine-tree hug, at black be thy fall, at ho the distaff, at Joan Thomson, at the bolting cloth, at the oat’s seed, at love, at the chess, at Reynard the fox, at the squares, at the cows, at the lottery, at the chance or mumchance, at three dice or maniest bleaks, at the tables, at nivinivinack, at the lurch, at doublets or queen’s game, at the faily, at the French trictrac, at the long tables or ferkeering, at feldown, at tod’s body, at needs must, at the dames or draughts, at bob and mow, at primus secundus, at mark-knife, at the keys, at span-counter, at even or odd, at cross or pile, at ball and huckle-bones, at ivory balls, at the billiards, at bob and hit, at the owl, at the charming of the hare, at pull yet a little, at trudgepig, at the magatapies, at the horn, at the flowered or Shrovetide ox, at the madge-owlet, at tilt at weeky, at ninepins, at the cock quintin, at tip and hurl, at the flat bowls, at the veer and turn, at rogue and ruffian, at bumbatch touch, at the mysterious trough, at the short bowls, at the dapple-grey, at cock and crank it, at break-pot, at my desire, at twirly whirlytrill, at the rush bundles, at the short staff, at the whirling gig, at hide and seek, or are you all hid? at the picket, at the blank, at the pilferers, at the caveson, at prison bars, at have at the nuts, at cherry-pit, at rub and rice, at whiptop, at the casting top, at the hobgoblins, at the O wonderful, at the soily smutchy, at fast and loose, at scutchbreech, at the broom-besom, at St. Cosme, I come to adore thee, at the lusty brown boy, at greedy glutton, at the morris dance, at feeby, at the whole frisk and gambol, at battabum, or riding of the wild mare, at Hind the ploughman, at the good mawkin, at the dead beast, at climb the ladder, Billy, at the dying hog, at the salt doup, at the pretty pigeon, at barley break, at the bavine, at the bush leap, at crossing, at bo-peep, at the hardit arsepursy, at the harrower’s nest, at forward hey, at the fig, at gunshot crack, at mustard peel, at the gome, at the relapse, at jog breech, or prick him forward, at knockpate, at the Cornish c(h)ough, at the crane-dance, at slash and cut, at bobbing, or flirt on the nose, at the larks, at fillipping.

It is so great that still today we are able to collect so many games. For the site of Bruce van Patter illustrates in a striking way how few of Brueghel’s games are played today: move the mouse on the image, and watch not only the street, but also the windows; and then also click on the central figure in red coat.

A gyermek Krisztus vesszőparipán lovagol, Stuttgart, 16. sz. első fele, kézirat margójánThe child Christ riding a hobby horse (and in the meantime treading the aspis snake
under the foot, according to Psalm 91). Drawing on the margin of a MS,
first half of the 16th century. Stuttgart, Württembergische
Landesbibliothek, Cod. theol. quart. 136

2 comentarios:

shari dijo...

This is a FAVORITE painting. Thanks for these lists! I was looking for a reference for an early hobby horse! Is there a discussion list for this painting?

Zsolt Sesztak dijo...

I am an English to Hungarian translator, and I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

This one is also a great post, I liked it.

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