Archive for the ‘Ethel’s Speeches and Writings’ Category

June 9, 2012

Exactly a week before Father’s Day, we vacated PHAn Room 124, which had been Dr. David’s room since 1986, when they transferred from the Faculty Center to what is now known as the Psychology Building. Dr. David’s life since 1962 had been intertwined with the Psychology Department, up to the time of his death in 2007, or 45 years. It had been a fruitful relationship. He attracted a lot of students to become Psychology majors, who then went on to Medicine, mostly to UP.

As I went through his personal belongings, his books, which he bought at great sacrifice to himself, but which he lent unselfishly to his students, his numerous papers, his personal copies of theses written by his advisees, I was struck anew by his self-effacing personality, which only came alive when he was in front of his classes.

His filing cabinet, already used when he got it, was already rusted under all the test papers and syllabi that he kept there. His big wooden cabinet where he kept the older books, copies of theses, other term papers, was a castoff from the Geography Department, which he and their former technician, Rudy Ramos, carted off to his office. His bench, the same. His two desks, a swivel chair, an ordinary chair, and a stool were simple. A rack was a piece of wood with two metal supports that he and Rudy had installed, according to Colin, the security guard at Palma Hall Annex, who had unashamedly cried at his wake. His curtain was a piece of green cloth that he had “installed” himself and kept in place with the help of some clips. The other window was covered with strips of illustration board kept in place with paper clips that he had straightened and twisted through small holes in the illustration board.

There were no diplomas, certificates or anything on his wall. He had lived like a monk, content in his self-imposed spartan way of life.

Yet, he was always ready to advise students, write letters of recommendations for them, teach some more those who had not gotten the concepts in class. His files were filled with notes from grateful students, students asking for some more leniency from the given deadline, late students, students on the verge of failing but asking for more work to make up for their deficiencies.

He was never absent, never late, and invariably, he exceeded the allotted time to accommodate students who asked about the just-concluded lecture, or students who just wished to talk with him, sometimes on topics outside the lessons. It was not unusual to see him anywhere and everywhere engrossed in a discussion with students who recognized his unique intelligence, an intelligence that did not manifest itself in an all too common obsession with the practical life, but in a grasp of the most abstruse philosophical concepts. No wonder, he was almost always the Department of Philosophy’s representative in thesis proposals, defense, and the like, even if the proponent came from other departments.

It was much too easy for others who did not know him to overlook his sterling qualities. For instance, he rarely won any award even if he richly deserved to win, even more than those who received these awards. He rarely, if ever, attended a conference, esp. if it was outside the country, because he did not want to be bothered with the paperwork that travelling entailed. And he did not want to be absent from his classes.

When his Department asked him if he would agree to be extended, because there was no one as yet who could handle his classes in Physiological Psychology, esp., he readily acceded, even if it meant he would be tied down for the next five years, instead of retiring and enjoying his retirement, travelling, even. In fact, he had plans that, after the expiration of his 5th and final extension, he’d teach a subject or two, perhaps as Professor Emeritus.

His untimely death at the beginning of his fifth and final extension cut all these plans and dreams. It silenced the voice of the rare Professor who not only genuinely enjoyed teaching but made his classes and students enjoy learning. His sense of humor and unpredictable quips (later immortalized as Quotable Quotes) made the tedium and rigor of Physiology and Statistics bearable. And his sense of sympathy, not only for students but for their parents who were bearing the burden of paying for their education, made him the almost-ideal professor who never failed a student, but added extra school work to make up for their deficiencies. After all, he rationalized, these students passed the UPCAT. Perhaps they were just under-performing because of some personal problems, or perhaps they were not prepared for the rigors of the UP curriculum, esp. Psychology’s, and more esp., his subjects, admittedly the most difficult in Psychology and the hardest to get high grades in. Some, who were running for honors, avoided him like the plague. But those who were more interested in learning, and never mind the grades, as long as they passed, realized long after that their tutelage under him prepared them well for graduate studies abroad.

That voice has long been silenced–on July 13, 2012, it will be the 5th anniversary of his passing away. Still, sometimes his voice reverberates in memory and in the life lessons we have learned from him. And we realize that, after all, it does not matter if his filing cabinet is rusty, his curtains are just strips of cloth and board, his furniture is hand-me-down–what he has imparted is far more important. #

Snippets from the past

June 19, 1977 (Faye is 2 years old)

We had sans rival cake with 2 red candles.  Faye blew out two: first one, then the other.  When we urged her to make a wish, she said: “Ayaw to [ko]“.  Had fun.  She ate all of her cake, too.

June 19, 1981 (6th birthday)

Ninang Tery and Tia Bib dropped by to wish Faye a happy birthday.  Tia Bib brought 2 big bangus and 2 kilos of sugpo (38 pcs.)

The day ended on a happy note.  Throughout it all, Avi [then just 1+ month)] slept.  Of course I had been breastfeeding her since this a.m. off and on, through lunch, through a snack, until about 8:30 p.m.  For more than 12 hours it was mostly Avi.

June 19, 1982 (7th birthday)

Yesterday was also an advanced celebration for Faye.  But I was very disappointed that I wasn’t able to see Tatay off at the airport.  We just waited at home for the sound of the airplane passing by and the kids waved excitedly when it did: “Babay, Lolo Maning!”

In the evening, we had cake, and Faye blew out the candles, all 7 of them.

June 18, 1982

It was late when we got back from Ninang Tery’s.  It was 11 pm past when I finally went to bed.

‘Twas quarter to 6 pm when the kids–Bryn, Xen, Faye–and I got impatient waiting for FG and decided to just go by ourselves to Ninang Tery’s (Teachers’ Village).  The time for the despedida dinner was set for 6 pm; Tatay arrived around 5, with Bien.  We were the first to come, then Romy, then Fe & Tony, then Flory.  It wasn’t ’til much later that Baby & Kiko came, or that FG came to fetch us.  It was 8:30 when we went out to eat.

I ate very little, as usual.  Tatay was very happy and kept recalling happy memories of my high school days.  I wish I could do much more.  Later, perhaps.  I hope he can still appreciate it, by then.  We walked home all the way, (the restaurant being very near Ninang’s place) Bien and I.  Tatay, Fe rode part of the way with Kiko, Baby.

June 18, 1983 (8th birthday)

It’s my beloved daughter’s birthday today.  We got through enrollment hassles, updated our Pacific Memorial Plan and was even able to celebrate her birthday!  But the luxuries have to wait some other time.

June 19, 1984 (9th birthday)

Alas, if only Uc [4 months short of 2 years] & Avi ([3 years] didn’t fall and hit their heads on the floor, this could have been a happier day.  Thankfully, there seems to be (I hope) no ill effects & the 2 kids are playing as before.

This was a rainy day.  I woke up from my nap with a splitting headache which thankfully cleared up after a short time.  Thankfully, too, I was also able to a lot of writing and typing of my term paper [for the previous sem] in the afternoon.

Tonight we celebrated Faye’s birthday.  I don’t know what she wished, but I hope that she’ll be performing well in school this year.  Avi also tried to blow out the candles and cried when she was rebuffed, so she was allowed to blow out 3 candles of her own.

June 19, 1990 (15th birthday)

It’s Faye’s birthday today.  It’s been a rainy day and everyone seems difficult and abstracted.  There’s also the tension from jeepney strikes and the very unstable atmosphere prevailing in the country.  One really has to exercise a lot of self-control to keep from falling to pieces.

Anyway, I stayed at home for the better part of the morning because I had to have FG’s letter xeroxed, however, it was brownout, so I had to wait until the electricity came back on.  (The Shopping Center where we have stuff xeroxed seems to have the same electrical connections we have.)

I got to mail the letters, ask for a copy of Atty. R’s notation on Atty. G’s letter, got a xerox copy of the BOR’s decision on P, and on to home.  And all this in pouring rain.  Later, saw Mr. Reynante and Ador and Ms. Guilbert at the Law Library.  I really miss my Law, after all!

June 18, 1995 (one day before Faye’s 20th)

The weekend seemed extra short.  Soon Xen & Faye went back to the dorm.

June 19, 1996 (21st birthday)

Faye’s 21st!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FAYE!

(7:41pm) I am killing time writing while waiting for 7:47 pm, when I should change my Nitrol.  Den is cooking, and Avi & Uc are clearing the table.  I don’t even want to imagine how lonely we would be without the 2 now that Faye and Xen are at the boarding house [in Manila].

I was so lonely all day that I wanted to call up Den around lunch time just to have somebody to talk to.  However, I just kept on with my task of arranging our books.  (8:28 a.m., June 20 — Unable to continue last night as we ate, watched Fair Game, then slept.)  It was at Vey’s and Faye’s room that I saw the numerous lovely cookbooks that Vey had bought at National, and a mixture of feelings overcame me.  The predominant one was loneliness: Vey is leaving us. [She was going to get married that December.]

June 19, 2008

So much has happened since Faye’s birthday last year.  We have lost Den, but we have gained Nina.  We’d like to think that the hardest parts are over, but Life has a way of upending all our plans, our expectations and high hopes.  So, armed with the fortitude that we have gained from suffering through Life’s trials, and with memories of happy times, we look to the future, and simply enjoy the present.  — EPD

I was so wrapped up in myself and in my immediate concerns that I hadn’t noticed that the bountiful earth had once again given us caimito fruits. We have two prolific caimito trees in our yard, so it is almost inevitable that eventually, we will be approached by buyers who would bring their own mangaakyat. The tree-owner doesn’t make any profit from the deal, really, (a big caimito will go for P1 each, small ones for 50 centavos) but it’s better than letting the fruits drop to the ground and rot. Also, for one’s time, one helps the buyer (who eventually sells the fruits at the market) to make an honest living. Today’s buyer has 4 children, the oldest of whom is 5 years old, the youngest, 7 months. Her husband, a pipe fitter for MWSS, is presently out of work. She was given away by her parents when she was small, and she grew up with strangers. When she could, already, she worked as a maid and supported herself; she finished first year high school.

When I hear stories like these, first-hand, I can’t help but remember Den’s remark that I’m really a very privileged person, despite my complaints. My parents lived long and so did my maternal grandparents. My parents sent me to study college, and when I married after my sophomore year, Den, at the urging of my grandmother, who helped us in the beginning, continued to send me to school. I finished my A.B. I even got to almost finish an M.A. in Comparative Literature, except for the thesis. And 2 years at UP Law. Yet, I don’t consider myself THAT privileged. But when I heard this buyer speak with a sigh that she wasn’t able to finish schooling because she didn’t grow up with her parents, I realize just how precious the unattainable is, and how truly fortunate I am, after all.

All of these passed fleetingly through my mind. And then my thoughts turn back to the caimito and I remember Den lugging the caimito seedlings from the plant nursery at Pampanga and planting them himself in our new place at what would later be known as 33 Juan Luna. Much, much later, when the trees bore fruit, it was still Den who picked the fruits. He continued to do this until his hypertension worsened and he couldn’t climb trees anymore, and by then he was already too old anyway to climb trees, a task he then left to the gardener. (But as recently as typhoon ‘Milenyo’, he cut away the branches of this tree that had fallen onto our carport roof, in spite of my entreaty that he just let the gardener do it. Even our neighbor, his colleague at the Psychology Department Dr. Gregorio del Pilar III, commented that he himself was deathly afraid something would happen to Den while he was cutting the tree. Thankfully, nothing did. Somehow, Den even thrives on such.)

Back to the caimito. When the buyers started coming some years ago, Den would just ask for a few pieces for himself, knowing that I had long tired of the fruits that we all used to eat so avidly, esp. when our children were younger and were all at home. Den always said that eating was a social habit, and when the children grew up, and went away, somehow the caimito fruits didn’t taste as good or as sweet as they used to.

Perhaps the buyer noticed, or perhaps she didn’t, my voice breaking whenever I referred to Den. I couldn’t even finish simple sentences. I’d like to think that she did notice, she who was no stranger to suffering. But she didn’t pry or ask anything, thankfully. She was a good person. Unlike other buyers, who’d cheat even in small ways, she carefully separated the big fruits from the small ones, and counted them accordingly. When the boy who climbed the tree asked for some free fruits for his mother, a practice common enough as to go unremarked by the owner, she told him: We’ll buy it first, then you get from there. It’s remarkable how, even in the face of hardship, some people can maintain a certain dignity and pride that one has stopped expecting nowadays.

After the caimito season is gone, it will be the season for other fruits, like mangoes and santol. And each time, each season will remind me of the happy past, the simple days when, without long planning, we would simply pack up and go, to Pampanga on weekends (it being nearer than Batangas), to Quiapo or Avenida or Escolta on weekdays or some weekends when we opted to stay close to home. Somehow, it was never boring, although we didn’t have any appliances, even, and our recreation, when we left Fevi and Boboy with the maid, when we had one, was to go and see a movie at Ideal or Avenue, then, later, Odeon and Roxan. Some days, when we had little money, we’d just stay home and sleep, the children, Den and I. I remember one time our sleep was so sound we slept through what should have been dinner. I woke up in the middle of the night, and all our doors were open! But no harm came to us, no thieves either. Those days, Fevi could roam our area and come home safe and sound by herself, or with a neighbor (Mrs. Hidalgo) or friend (Juliet Hufana).

Such idyllic days ended when Den went to the US to pursue his M.A., then his Ph.D. But that’s for another reminiscence.

 

Good Evening, Officers and Members of the UP Psychology Society, Alumni, Other Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

This is one of those instances when I really wish that your Professor fg David were here. No matter if he lacked sleep, was hungry, was tired, wasn’t feeling well–all the excuses one can think of–he would never be at a loss for words. Of course that supreme qualification made him a Teacher, and a good one at that. Just last Wednesday (February 13), he received a posthumous award at the CSSP week for service rendered from June 1, 1960, to July 13, 2007, or 47 years of service to the UP. Even if we consider the 7 or so years he worked at the Listening Center, went on fellowship and studied for his master’s and doctorate, that’s still 40 years of teaching, of lecturing, of talking. Perhaps if we spin his words into one long line, it could orbit the earth several times, or reach from here to a distant, undiscovered galaxy. And I’m not even counting the words he’d said to colleagues and to us–words of wisdom, or jokes, when he’d tire of the serious. In fact, when he arrived home from school, all he’d want to say were jokes, and sometimes, nonsense words that he’d make up on the spur of the moment, like “nikutznikay”. He explained that he had said enough serious words in school and just liked to indulge in non-serious matters for a change.

Jokes–I’m reminded of his jokes, which ranged from the witty to the downright corny, sometimes. When we first met, I’d dissolve in laughter helplessly when he’d go into his routine as we walked. And there was this time in 1974, at a PAP (Psychological Association of the Philippines) convention when he was in an open forum with faith healers, with him being the only non-believer in faith healing, that even the nuns in the audience could only laugh helplessly and say, “Grabe!” That was almost the last time I got to listen to his witticisms in public, as after that I had to devote my time to our last 4 children, and I consider that his peak, from my point of view of course. With the passing of time, I even liked to believe I’d gotten used to his repeated jokes. But even so, there’d be times, even shortly before he passed away, that he could still make me laugh for long stretches with his imaginary scenarios. He always knew how to tickle one’s funny bone somehow. And that’s what I, and I guess you, miss most about him.

Now, all our 45 years together are just memories, just as your classes with him are now part of the irretrievable past. But I’m glad that even if he’s gone, you continue to honor his memory. I hope you shall continue to do so even when some of you have graduated from the UP, have jobs and raise families of your own, or whatever life-course you opt to pursue. I hope his good words and jokes and quotable quotes will stay with you somehow, esp. when the time comes that you want to reach back to your past to smooth out a present dilemma. If so, even if just some of his students from 4 decades long do this, then I can only say: it was, indeed, worth it.

Thank you so much for the tribute to him tonight. While I’d like to say that: “I’m sure, wherever he is, he sees this and he is happy”, at the back of my mind, I can almost hear him, skeptical, opposing, satiric, irreverent, iconoclastic, and so–I think I’ll just be content with saying, our family, his survivors–in more ways than one–are happy for this memorable night. And I’d like to close with his own words, the last 2 lines of his poem, “Now About to Arrive”: “my friends, these are all, us, after all/and after all let us go on and laugh.”

[whenever fg and I were apart, we'd send each other not only letters, but also articles of interest to each other. correction: I would send him articles of interest. usually, he'd just write, long letters that will take us years to transcribe. :) anyway, this is one article that I’m sure would've been of interest to him, as he was a keen reader of Tolstoy. I think one time, he delivered a paper on "Anna Karenina". also, one summer, he challenged Cyril, our youngest son, to finish "war and peace", upon which Cyril would receive a prize from his dad. Cyril says he finished the book, although I don't now recall what the prize given was. it's really immaterial--one's prize is having read the book, actually, and learning from having read it.]

Lost in Translations
‘War and Peace’ has been the Everest of literature for more than 150 years. Two new English versions remind us why Tolstoy’s tome is still worth the climb.

By Malcolm Jones
NEWSWEEK
Updated: 3:16 PM ET Oct 9, 2007
War and Peace” still looms large over the literary landscape, intimidating readers and writers much as it has for the last century and a half. Hemingway, as competitive as he was insecure, playfully talked about getting in the ring with Mr. Tolstoy. Henry James derided “War and Peace” as a “loose, baggy monster.” Even Stalin — who never met an author he wasn’t afraid to ban, jail or murder — knew better than to forbid Russians from reading “War and Peace.” Over its lifetime, the book has become a yardstick for quality — and sometimes just a yardstick. “As long as ‘War and Peace’ …” is a comparison understood even by people who have never cracked its covers. Reading it, or finishing it, has become a metaphor for accomplishment, and a funny metaphor at that, best expressed in Philip Roth’s sly joke in “Goodbye, Columbus,” when the narrator says he could always tell when it was summer because his cousin Doris was reading “War and Peace.”

The thing about cultural fixtures is they’re supposed to stay fixed. But “War and Peace” never stops surprising us. Currently two publishers are feuding over rival editions of a book that was published well, the publication date is one of the things they’re feuding about. Last month Ecco Press brought out a much shorter version of Tolstoy’s masterpiece about Russia during the Napoleonic Wars, translated by Andrew Bromfield. This edition constitutes Tolstoy’s first attempt at the novel, which he published in 1866 in a Russian literary magazine. Tolstoy would spend another three years revising and enlarging his initial vision, ultimately producing the much longer novel familiar to modern readers. That is the version being published this month by Knopf and newly translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the couple whose earlier translation of “Anna Karenina” became a best seller when Oprah Winfrey picked it as one of her book-club titles in 2004.

In the months leading up to publication, the two publishers took a few potshots at each other, with Knopf editor LuAnn Walther accusing Ecco of making “a serious mistake.” Walther even asked Pevear to draft a response to the Ecco version. Lately both houses have scaled back the rhetoric. Daniel Halpern, Ecco’s publisher, settled for saying in a recent interview that “anything that gets Tolstoy into the headlines has to be viewed as good news.” Walther refuses to comment further on the fracas. “It’s time to let the critics decide,” she says. But she does address what is perhaps a more pertinent question for the general reader: why does the world need yet another translation of “War and Peace,” and why now? “Because,” she says after a long pause, “it’s the greatest book ever written, and it’s never been done like this before. Because all the previous translations left things out and got things wrong. Because it is a great moment to be reading Tolstoy, because we’re at war. And because Richard and Larissa were willing to do it.”

OK, an editor has to sell her book, but Walther isn’t just blowing smoke. The Ecco edition is fascinating, but it would have been a true boon to scholars and fans of the novel had anyone thought to equip it with a longer introduction and some annotation. Instead, readers are left groping to understand what they are reading: the first draft of what would become “War and Peace.” The Knopf edition, in contrast, comes laden with a long introduction by Pevear, heavy annotation, a historical glossary of people and places and a summary of the action. You don’t need to read Russian to recognize that of the editions available in English, the Knopf edition is by far the one that most closely resembles literature.

To understand this fight, to grasp why anyone would get this passionate about a book, you’re going to have to read it, because describing “War and Peace” to anyone who has never read it is like trying to describe an elephant to an Eskimo. We trot out the usual adjectives: sprawling, epic, historical romance and so on. Those descriptions aren’t inaccurate, but neither do they capture the book’s mesmerizing essence. What’s forbidding about “War and Peace — its length, its eccentricities (essays in the middle of a novel?), its Russianness — is also what makes it attractive. This enormous novel is like Mount Everest: it creates its own weather. Tolstoy’s powers of invention beggar easy description, much less summary. Try imagining a Shakespeare play where, say, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Henry IV are all on the same stage at the same time.

But forget the stage. There is no proscenium arch with Tolstoy. He, and we, are everywhere at once. Birdlike, we peer at the Battle of Borodino, straining to see through the artillery smoke to the field of battle. Moments later we are striding up and down behind the Russian lines with Andrei Bolkonsky, and then a split second later we, like Bolkonsky, are frozen while we watch a spinning cannonball hiss and sputter at his feet. Rank has no privilege in Tolstoy’s world. His portrait of Napoleon shows us a strutting fool puffed up with self-importance. But even when he doesn’t like a character, the author takes pains to make him human. When we encounter Napoleon on the eve of battle, he is not plotting strategy but inspecting a newly painted portrait of his young son. He cannot sleep, not because he is excited about the coming battle but because he has a head cold.

In the reader’s mind, Tolstoy’s characters very quickly cease to be “characters.” Pierre, Natasha and Andrei are people we know as well as or better than we know our neighbors. The idea that they have no existence outside the pages of the novel is unthinkable. Volokhonsky remembers first reading it when she was about 13. “For me, Natasha Rostova and Andrei Bolkonsky were childhood friends,” she said in a recent telephone interview from Paris, where she and Pevear live. To her, the world that Tolstoy created was as real as the Russia outside her doorstep. “And I noticed that my parents and my friends’ parents used [the novel] as established truth. They would talk about it as if this is how it is. But when you read Tolstoy, you see that it is not their experience, it is their literary experience.”

The miracle is that somehow “War and Peace” has survived all cultural climate changes and continues to find readers — there are at least four different translations currently in print. The irony is that it does this almost in spite of its translators. The best-known was done by Constance Garnett in 1904. Garnett was a woman in a hurry — she translated some 70 Russian books into English — but what she gained in speed, she lost in subtlety. Her version of “War and Peace” isn’t bad, but it’s not exactly Tolstoy either. It has a sort of one-size-fits-all quality. (Joseph Brodsky, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian poet, said that English-speaking readers couldn’t tell the difference between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky because they’d hadn’t been reading their prose, they’d been reading Garnett’s.) Only two years ago, a new translation appeared by an Englishman, Anthony Briggs. This version is brisk and efficient — two words no one ever applied to Tolstoy — but the characters, particularly the servants and soldiers from the ranks, talk as if they’d just wandered in from a Dickens novel.

Good translation is something like what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about obscenity: he couldn’t define it, but he knew it when he saw it. When you read T. E. Lawrence’s translation of the Odyssey or even the fragment of the Aeneid that Seamus Heaney has produced, you see, as if for the first time, the potency of these works. But if agreeing on the criteria for a great translation has proved impossible, that has never stopped people from debating what constitutes a good one, or about whether it is an art or a craft, or about the possibility (or impossibility) of ever truly rendering one language’s reality into another tongue. In any case, it is hard not to feel sympathy for Tolstoy’s translators, even the bad ones. They have their work cut out for them.

Pevear and Volokhonsky labored for three years on “War and Peace.” Besides “Anna Karenina,” the couple has translated 14 books by most of the major 19th-century Russian writers, including Dostoevsky, Chekhov and the notoriously difficult Gogol. “They’re all hard,” Pevear says, but “War and Peace” presented a unique set of challenges. “Other translators have said they find Tolstoy comparatively easy to translate,” Pevear says. “If you assume that Tolstoy is not really a stylist and that his work can be paraphrased into smooth English, the task may become comparatively easy. But once you pay close attention to his words, they become as difficult to translate as any.”

Pevear points out that Tolstoy constantly uses words and phrases in odd combinations, such as when he describes the “transparent” sound of horses’ hooves on a wooden bridge or when he writes that “drops dripped” from the leaves of trees. The temptation is always, when translating, to make things make sense, to smooth things out. But then it isn’t Tolstoy. There were as well all the “hunting terms, terms for the specific colors of horses’ coats, for the shapes of dogs’ paws, for the gait of a wolf being pursued. Russian has its own rich and inventive vocabulary for these things, for which there are often no equivalents in English,” Pevear says. Then there was the question of how to handle the slang of soldiers and peasants. “Replacing them with standard Cockney or redneck jargon, as has been done, is a great mistake,” he says, “because those ‘languages’ bring their own worlds with them.”

If Pevear and Volokhonsky have an edge as translators, it is that they don’t just respect the original but trust it completely. “I said to Richard,” Volokhonsky says, ” ‘Let’s translate “War and Peace.” We’ll be in good hands’.” As a result, all the modernity of the book — and it does seem the most modern of almost any classic novel from the 19th century — comes from Tolstoy’s outlook on life, not from the language of this translation, which remains blessedly free of any contemporary lingo. “Our reasons for making a new translation have nothing to do with keeping up with the supposed changes in modern English,” Pevear says. “Quite the opposite. We go back into Tolstoy’s prose as a specific artistic medium; we try to pay the closest attention to his way of using Russian; we want our English version to be more Tolstoyan, not more contemporary. Tolstoy is modern enough as it is. We want, as far as possible, to do in English what he does in Russian.”

Fair enough, but Tolstoy has been moving English readers for more than a century, and the translations haven’t seemed to matter. Pierre is still Pierre, his belly spilling out of his waistcoat. Andrei is still lying wounded on the battlefield at Austerlitz, staring at the sky as if for the first time. Isn’t the story what’s most important, and not the particulars of its translation? Pevear will have none of that: “You could tell people what is portrayed in Rembrandt’s ‘Return of the Prodigal Son’ and move them deeply. But the telling would have little to do with the experience of looking at the unique disposition of color, light, space, scale, line, texture, brushwork in Rembrandt’s painting, which also happens to depict the return of the prodigal son. It is the same with a work in words. Words have color, shade, tone, texture, rhythm, pacing, disposition, structure; they can quote, echo, parody other words; they can be unexpected, infinitely suggestive, mercurial; they can also beat and repeat like a drum. That is the nature of Tolstoy’s artistic medium; his ‘story’ comes clothed in all these elements of style as he alone used them, and which alone create the impression he wanted to make. Of course he used them ‘instinctively,’ and not for the sake of effect (though he was a far more conscious and even experimental stylist than is sometimes thought). The translator, on the other hand, has to do consciously what the author did instinctively. And yet it must seem instinctive: that’s the final test.” To anyone who attempts this latest translation, it will be clear quite quickly that Pevear and Volokhonsky aced that exam.

URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/42451© Newsweek Magazine

Our greetings to everybody who has logged on to this, Dr. David’s website, and to all who contributed to its contents in one way or another.

My children and I thank you and wish you all a Happy New Year. Unbelievably, we have made it this far, thanks to you all who supported us in our grief and who continue to support us in our efforts to make Dr. David’s legacy live on.

I’d like to thank, esp., my son Ef, whose idea this was; my son Cy, who crafted this site; my daughter Faye, who’s responsible for almost all of the pictures that have been posted here, and for most of the messages; and my daughter Bryn, who has also posted pictures and most of the students’ blog entries.

May the coming year 2008 be better in all ways for all of us.

Ethel P. David

[Early this morning, a day after Christmas morn, I woke up with the memory of Den, in my dream, fresh in my mind. He looked so alive, teasing, as I remember him well. As is usual for me, a line from a poem, or a song, as the case may be, immediately popped into my head. This time, it's 'I arise from dreams of thee'.

I immediately searched the Internet for the whole poem, and got it easily enough. Incidentally, this poem is one of those included in the 'Beauty and the Beast' collection, as read by Ron Perlman. I had listened to it so often that I can still 'hear' the lines as read by Ron in his wondrous voice. And, though I studied this poem in my English lit class under Prof. Sylvia Mendez-Ventura*, it takes personal experience to render a poem meaningful. It takes distance, and age, to appreciate the fact that Shelley only lived for 30 years! To a college student, as I was once, 30 is old! But to someone like me now, 30 sounds positively young, just the age of a younger child of mine. Oh, to be 30 again. Thirty was when I had Ferri. ]

I Arise from Dreams of Thee

    I ARISE from dreams of thee
    In the first sweet sleep of night,
    When the winds are breathing low,
    And the stars are shining bright
    I arise from dreams of thee,
    And a spirit in my feet
    Has led me — who knows how? —
    To thy chamber-window, sweet!
    The wandering airs they faint
    On the dark, the silent stream, —
    The champak odors fall
    Like sweet thoughts in a dream,
    The nightingale’s complaint,
    It dies upon her heart,
    As I must die on thine,
    O, beloved as thou art!
    O, lift me from the grass!
    I die, I faint, I fall!
    Let thy love and kisses rain
    On my lips and eyelids pale,
    My cheek is cold and white, alas!
    My Heart beats loud and fast
    Oh! press it close to thine again,
    Where it will break at last!
    Percy Bysshe Shelley

*As poems to be studied, the poems by Shelley, and those of Wordsworth and Keats, are less ‘satisfactory’ than are, say, poems by John Donne, the metaphysical poet. The reason is obvious. One can read and understand the former perfectly and at once, without need of a re-reading, or analysis. Shelley belongs to the ‘Romantic’ poets, who rebelled against the trend in poetry which dictated that poetry should be ‘dissected’ before one could even begin to understand it. Thus, they wrote this kind of poetry, which wear their hearts on their sleeves, so to speak. I can still ‘see’ and ‘hear’ Prof. Ventura reading the line, “I die! I faint! I fall!” with a bemused expression. Indeed, it’s the poetry of the young and the romantic.

This was held yesterday, December 23, at the Santuario de San Antonio. Reception followed at the Manila Polo Club.

Some of the godparents were Dr. Vietrez David-Abella, Bryn Mai P. David, Dr. F. Guido P. David, Dr. Xenia P. David, Avril P. David, and Cyril Ucron P. David.

I ran into him one time near the Chateau Verde. I asked if he would, you know, and he graciously, unhesitatingly assented. Thanks, Jimmy!


Judging from the response to an online petition, 110,000+ as of some moments ago, the ‘racist slur’ uttered by a character in the ABC series ‘Desperate Housewives’ has struck a chord in the Filipino consciousness, not just of Filipino doctors’ and their relatives’, but of Filipinos from all walks of life who have access to the internet. The episode in question was aired September 30, 2007, in the U.S., and just 9 days later, so much has happened. First there was Kevin Nadal’s online petition. Then Filipino government officials, from Malacanang’s Executive Secretary to Secretary of Health Duque to Senators like Senator Miriam Defensor to Congressmen , have demanded an apology. Fil-Ams have communicated with ABC officials and have held rallies. Others are advocating a boycott and/or an outright cancellation of the series on local cable TV. Others advocate a boycott of ABC, of Disney, and of the sponsors who make the said series possible. A group of Fil-Am doctors are planning on a class action suit against ABC. Filipinos have not been this united since EDSA I.

One may ask, what does all this have to do with Dr. David? And I say, a lot. Not only did he convince 5 of his 8 children to go to medicine, but he persuaded countless students of Psychology to become doctors. In the past, it was impossible to attend TRP (Tao Rin Pala), a yearly yearend show sponsored and participated in mostly by medical students, without bumping into former students, who’d respectfully acknowledge his presence and even request for a picture with him. Over the years, former students of his now comprise practically a Who’s Who of the medical profession, both here and abroad. So, were he alive, I’ve no doubt that he’d be personally affronted by this slur on medical schools in the Philippines, including, but not limited to, UP.

To all who log in on Dr. David’s website, we urge you to sign the petition and make your voices heard. While ABC has apologized for the ‘slur’, the apology has not satisfied a majority of Filipinos who have been slandered worldwide, unjustly. Furthermore, the latest word is that ABC refuses to broadcast its apology. We look at this latest non-move askance. It takes 5 years to finish a degree in medicine, 3-5 years to finish a specialization, or residency, another 1-2 years to finish a subspecialization, and another 2 years at least to establish one’s practice. That’s 10 years of one’s life. To have all this blown away or cheapened by an irresponsible remark intended as a joke, and a sick joke at that–even in an admittedly fictive series of unadmirable women–is unacceptable. Not to disown this remark on TV, by ABC officials, is insult upon injury.

To those who have already signed the petition, we urge you to join other movements to redress this grievous insult that has been inflicted on Filipino doctors, their relatives, friends, and all Filipinos. Let us not swallow the opprobria that have been heaped on Filipino doctors worldwide. All these years, our doctors have saved countless non-Filipino lives or have made other’s lives bearable by their healing touch. And this is the thanks they get?