ORLANDINA, or the wonders of translating a Russian text based off a Polish book written in French about Spanish events into English

Yes, I have problems with processing the information in the title, too.

It all began with a book.
Face it: Wiki can explain the roots of this story quicker than I can:

The Manuscript Found in Saragossa (FrenchManuscrit trouvé à Saragosse; also known in English as The Saragossa Manuscript), is a frame-tale novel written in French by Polish Enlightenment author, Count Jan Potocki (1761–1815). It is narrated from the time of the Napoleonic Wars, and depicts events several decades earlier,[1][2] during the reign of King Philip V (r. 1700–24, 1724–46).[3]

The fun fact is that Potocki has never actually finished all the stories in it; he committed suicide in 1815.

In 1970, Russian poets and songwriter Alexei Hvostenko and Henri Volhonsky wrote the lyrics of a song based off one of the plotlines in that book to the music of a French songwriter Jean Ferrat. They later confessed they started writing it during the journey on a train from Leningrad to Pskov, and finished it in a painter’s house in Pskov. Just like that, the song “Orlandina” came to life. During the past years it was performed by multiple Russian bands and singers.

That’s how the story developed up to this moment. The funny part is that one of the versions of “Orlandina” (I mean this live recording by Olga Arefjeva & Kovcheg) is performed in such a fashion that it makes people burst out laughing — not necessarily because of the story in it, but due to the performance: you can’t imagine the main hero didn’t see all this coming! Some of the people I know (those precious ones who have a habit of waiting at stage doors of theatres)) agree that the song about strange ladies waiting for you in dark alleys sounds like a perfect soundtrack for them.

The mere fact that this song is only known to Russian-speaking people was all the reasons for me to try and translate it the way it can be put to the same music and sung properly. The translation was made with enormous help of A.J. Croasdale , for nothing can be considered properly translated without consulting the native speaker ;}

The recorded version lacks all the important parts like instruments, but it still gives you the idea, so…))

Walking the streets long after midnight,
I came across one rather odd sight:
There was a lady crying in fright,
All sad, all tears
“Pray tell me have I ever met you?
Who hurt you, who dared to forget you,
Abandoned thee?
You’re Orlandina, my beloved grace!
Admit you’re her, I recognize your face!”
“Yes, that is me.

I go by the name Orlandina
Yes, Orlandina, Orlandina
Why, Orlandina, Orlandina
That is my name
You want to know if you have met me:
Know then: you managed to forget me
Abandoned me
But I’ll give up on tears to go with you
If you’ll have me then I will follow you,
Your destiny.”

“I am so blessed that I’ve found you!
Your tears might easily have drowned you.
Come, let me put my arms around you!”
And just like that
Fur sprouted from my lady’s features,
Her eyes flared red, voice turned to screeches;
With wolfish grin
The monster reached its hand and held me up
With all its sickly passion letting out
A gruesome scream.

“I am not really Orlandina,
I am in fact no Orlandina
No, I was never Orlandina,
But Lucifer!
See now my claws, prepare to suffer
Feel now the stench of ash and sulphur
And fire’s breath!”
That’s how he screamed and sank his copper tooth
Into my skull, his ancient copper tooth,
Satan himself.

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1 Comment

  1. Bad 06.03.2016

    Absolutely fantastic! And I love both, the explanation and the performance!

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