View Full Version : Lost in Translation

yellowish haze
08-31-2005, 07:27 AM
To tell the truth, I started reading horror fiction in English, mainly, because I always liked the original versions (this applys not only to books and movies).

Moreover, for unexplainable reasons, horror fiction was not being published in Poland before the collapse of communism and the first (and the only) authors that became popular later were: Stephen King (surprise, surprise!), Guy N. Smith (with his cheesy Killer Crab series), Dean Koontz (hmmm...), Harry Adam Knight and Graham Masteton (who is currently even more popular in Poland than in his native Great Britain!). The translations of some of the books ranged from extremely poor to mediocre which was another off-putting factor that led me to search for more sophisticated stuff.

Here is one example of how the contents of a horror novel have been treated by Polish publishers. This is the Polish edition of "The Burrowers Beneath" by Brain Lumley, which forms part of his his acclaimed "Titus Crow" Cthulhu cycle. Now, can anyone tell what is the cover supposed to represent:


Some argue that this is the Great Cthulhu himself, but I am having some serious doubts.... Any ideas?

08-31-2005, 08:05 AM
Oh, my....Cthulhu Rex!

That's utterly hilarious, Slawek! The ONLY connection I can make between a T Rex and THE BURROWERS BENEATH is that in the sequel, Titus Crow travels to the Cretaceous in his Time-Clock...

It is truly sad that you don't have the vast plethora of titles to choose from as yet. I did know that Graham Masterson was big there, largely due to his wife's (who is from Polonia) influence. I have read a few things by him (his NIGHT WARRIORS series as well as THE MANITOU & it's sequels), but am not a big fan of his work. He wrote an AWFUL remake of "The Dreams in the Witch-house" in novel length. It was so bad I cannot and must not recall the title...

Thanks for the info, my friend. It's easy to forget how different things are from country to country.

From the City of Vulcan,

yellowish haze
08-31-2005, 08:57 AM
True, true... Graham Masterton has produced some ugly books and I only like the guy for the fact that he wrote a (clumsy) horror novel which takes place in Warsaw where I live (see: THE CHOSEN CHILD) and on the cover you can see the The Palace of Culture, a building in which my University is located:


I know that his wife is Polish. Graham Masterton is the only horror writer I've met in my life. He was in here for a book signing. We don't have many such occasions because...

a. Which horror writer would like to promote his writing in Poland?

b. Horror is a dead genre in Poland. Everyone reads fantasy. (this is very sad).

Although, I really don't like this small obsession about Graham Masterton in this country I was rather happy when he dedicated a book to me writing : "For Slawek, The greatest fan of horror fiction." :)

P. S. Cthulhu Rex rocks!!!

G. S. Carnivals
08-31-2005, 08:16 PM
Absolute proof that one should not judge a book by its cover! Too bad that I don't have a scanner: I've some real hoots in my collection. What were they thinking? A prime offender was the American publisher Ace Books in the 1950's and 1960's. (A perfect example is the first edition of Philip K. Dick's Clans of the Alphane Moon, Ace book F-309. Ludicrous.) Years ago, I had a vintage paperback site bookmarked... but the name escapes me now. The site had a link to someone's labor-of-love Ace Books site with umpty-zillion cover scans, including Ace's gothic and mystery titles. I hope it still exists!
Suddenly Seeing "Double",

Eureka! It does still exist, and it's more comprehensive than it was years ago! Enjoy!

09-05-2005, 03:37 PM
Y'know, Slawek...

I got to thinking about Masterson's books, and realized I came off a bit more neagative than I should have regarding his work.

For instance: I really do enjoy his Manitou trilogy. He put a lot of great research concerning Amerind myth into it, and did a pretty decent job of incorporating Cthulhu Mythos elements, as well.

In the third novel, BURIAL, there is a character mentioned who originated from Armenia, name of Milan Protic. This fellow was a "Shadow-catcher", and used special bottles and chants to imprison and banish shadow beings back to the Great Outside. I know that this practice is based on old beliefs from East Europe, and is pretty obscure lore to even find information on here in the States. I've read a bit about it, long ago, but I couldn't tell you where or what I was reading. I have to hand it to GM for knowing and using odd & obscure legendry. I'd love to know more about Shadow-catching, I love cool old esoteric knowledge & traditions.

Also, he seems to have a good knowledge of horrid old cautionary rhymes and terribly creepy old children's prayers. I'd love to know where he gets all this stuff: I'd never heard the one about "The great red-legged scissorsman" previously. Ugh.

That said, NIGHT WARRIORS and it's two sequels are pretty darn corny.

It's cool that you gota dedication, though. Thanks for sharing that.

In Nominis Cthulhu Rex,

The Silent One
09-05-2005, 10:07 PM
Also, he seems to have a good knowledge of horrid old cautionary rhymes and terribly creepy old children's prayers. I'd love to know where he gets all this stuff: I'd never heard the one about "The great red-legged scissorsman" previously. Ugh.-Aether
Struwwelpeter, from which methinks it came. Speaking of the "great red-legged scissorsman", Grant Morrison used that concept to great effect... "Defeating breadfruit in adumbarate!" Readers will get the reference.

09-06-2005, 12:04 AM

Right...Morrison DID use that in DOOM PATROL. How could I have forgotten?

Another creepy-ass quote:

As I was walking up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd stay away.

Ummm...yeah. Me too!

Checking the staircase,

ps- the german title you mention...Shockheaded Peter, correct?

and here's one more:

Jesus save us from the teeth
Of Things that rise from Underneath;
Oh, Jesus guard us while we sleep
From Those that rise up from the Deep.

Nice lil' bedtime prayer, ay wot?

09-06-2005, 02:48 AM

One day, Mamma said, "Conrad dear,
I must go out and leave you hear.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don't suck your thumb while I'm
The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys that suck their thumbs;
And ere they dream what he's about,
He takes his great sharp scissors out
And cuts their thumbs clean off, - and
You know, they never grow again."

Momma had scarcely turn'd her back,
The thumb was in, alack! alack!
The door flew open, in he ran.
The great, long, red-legged scissor-
Oh! children, see! the tailor's come
And caught our little Suck-a-Thumb.
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast;
That both his thumbs are off at last.

Mamma comes home; there Conrad stands,
And looks quite sad, and shows his hands; -
"Ah!" said Mamma, "I knew he'd come
To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb."

I would bet Heinrich Hoffmann's STRUWWELPETER influenced Edward Gorey.

The Stairs poem is great!

09-06-2005, 07:47 AM
Thanks, Bendk...

Here are some awful pictures to go with the Scissorsman...


G. S. Carnivals
09-06-2005, 09:16 PM
My mother has told me that I suckled the two digits between my index and little fingers (right hand) when I was an infant. I stilll have both thumbs. Imagine running with the Scissorman!

The Silent One
09-07-2005, 11:26 PM
Try this for Morrison's take:
Ah, yes, Struwwelpeter is marvelous.

09-09-2005, 12:00 PM
To get back on the first post, I must say that I also started reading fiction in English (not only horror fiction) because I like the original best. In fact it seems that in the particular case of "strange" fiction, I prefer English because it helps me concentrate (when I read in French, I'm much more easily distracted) AND get in the mood. Good for me as far as Ligotti is concerned because of the non-existence of translations (cf. one of my posts in the In Foreign languages forum).

But, don't make me wrong : translations can sometimes be real good, and can be equally (or even more) enjoyable as the original in very few occasions. Just one example that can't suffer discussion : the translator of a good deal of Poe's stories into French was none other than Charles Baudelaire...

G. S. Carnivals
10-17-2005, 01:18 PM
Oh, my....Cthulhu Rex!

Oh, my! Indeed. Imagine my chagrin when I opened the vault for the first time in a while. Etchings & Odysseys #5 sports a cover painting by David Pudelwitts called "Cthulhu Rex." The painting is inscribed: "CTHVLHV de R'LYEH REX TERRA / ANO ANTIDOMINVS I/ LVDWIG PRINN 1492." From "About the front cover": "Cthulhu Rex Terra Ano Antidominus I (Cthulhu, King of the Earth, Year of the AntiChrist 1.) by Ludvig Prinn." I'd show the image, but I have no scanning capability. A great depiction of Cthulhu!