Translator´s Note
As most attempts at translating demonstrate quite
clearly, it is extremely difficult to walk the tightrope
between hewing to the original too closely and deviating
from it too generously. Skeptical that even the best of
their trade can do justice especially to poetry, Karl Kraus
once punned “Übersetzen? - Üb´ ersetzen!“ (5) Nestroy
specialist W. Edgar Yates explains the basic difference
between translating and what he calls adapting: “Je
mehr der Bearbeiter seiner Phantasie freien Lauf läßt,
desto mehr mag er dem Text neues Leben einflößen,
aber desto weniger darf das Stück, das so zustande
kommt, als eine eigentliche Übersetzung bezeichnet
werden. Es gilt aber wohl auch das Umgekehrte: Je
enger sich die Übersetzung an die Vorlage hält, desto
flacher kann sie paradoxerweise wirken.“ (6) Most
instances of treating the text rather freely, without
insisting on exact semantic equivalents, will probably
qualify as adapting; those deliberately constraining the
spirit of creativity too harshly, as translating. Both are
potentially successful, unless they miss their respective
goals and fall off the tightrope in the process.
With this in mind, I have chosen to tackle bits and pieces
of short monologs, stanzas, aphorisms, and couplets
rather than entire scenes. It is infinitely easier to render
in another language that which can be carved out of its
context at negligible loss or, in the vast majority of
cases, none at all. Though Nestroy typically needed only
the flimsiest structure with a minimum of tension to
hang his gags and skits on, it is still infinitely more
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