26th March 2015
Recently a small but interesting booklet
called Scottish Spleen was published
by Tapsalteerie. It is edited by Tom Hubbard, James Underhill and Stewart
Sanderson and is a collection of prose-poetry translated from the French of
Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821-1867) who was a Paris-born poet, art critic,
essay writer and translator closely associated with the modernist movement of
his day. In fact, Baudelaire is credited with inventing the term modernité (‘modernity’).
The translations in this booklet are
taken from two works by Baudelaire – Les
Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) and Le
Spleen de Paris (published in 1869 after his death). As well as Hubbard and
Underhill, the prose-poetry translations in this booklet are by well-known
writers Sheena Blackhall and J Derrick McClure (both deservedly noted for their
work in North East Scots or Doric), Christie Williamson (in Shetland dialect),
and Rab Wilson (Ayrshire), James Robertson (Edinburgh), Robert Calder and Walter
Perrie in variations of Central Scots. Each one writes in their own fashion,
freely translating the original French, in varying orthography, and each
produces a fresh, delightful interpretation.
Hubbard and Underhill also bring their own style, with Underhill writing in a curious mix of Scots and English which he puts down to his family background. One thing, though, given that the booklet’s subject is both prose and poetry, we wonder why Hubbard and Underhill didn’t go the whole hog and write both the preface and postface in Scots too. We could certainly do with much more exploratory prose in the language. Nonetheless we are sure that this work will generate interest.
Scottish Spleen (ISBN: 978 0 9926631 3 1) is available from Tapsalteerie, Bognamoon, Craigievar, Alford, Aberdeenshire AB33 8LX, price £5. Check out the website at www.tapsalteerie.co.uk .