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#1 2009-01-14 13:09:35

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Конкурсные тексты (англ.)

Номинация «Проза»

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate
by Ted Chiang

O mighty Caliph and Commander of the Faithful, I am humbled to be in the splendor of your presence; a man can hope for no greater blessing as long as he lives. The story I have to tell is truly a strange one, and were the entirety to be tattooed at the corner of one's eye, the marvel of its presentation would not exceed that of the events recounted, for it is a warning to those who would be warned and a lesson to those who would learn.


The Tale of the Wife and Her Lover

Raniya had been married to Hassan for many years, and they lived the happiest of lives. One day she saw her husband dine with a young man, whom she recognized as the very image of Hassan when she had first married him. So great was her astonishment that she could scarcely keep herself from intruding on their conversation. After the young man left, she demanded that Hassan tell her who he was, and Hassan related to her an incredible tale.

"Have you told him about me?” she asked. “Did you know what lay ahead of us when we first met?"

"I knew I would marry you from the moment I saw you,” Hassan said, smiling, “but not because anyone had told me. Surely, wife, you would not wish to spoil that moment for him?"

So Raniya did not speak to her husband's younger self, but only eavesdropped on his conversation, and stole glances at him. Her pulse quickened at the sight of his youthful features; sometimes our memories fool us with their sweetness, but when she beheld the two men seated opposite each other, she could see the fullness of the younger one's beauty without exaggeration. At night, she would lie awake, thinking of it.

Some days after Hassan had bid farewell to his younger self, he left Cairo to conduct business with a merchant in Damascus. In his absence Raniya found the shop that Hassan had described to her, and stepped through the Gate of Years to the Cairo of her youth.

She remembered where he had lived back then, and so was easily able to find the young Hassan and follow him. As she watched him, she felt a desire stronger than she had felt in years for the older Hassan, so vivid were her recollections of their youthful lovemaking. She had always been a loyal and faithful wife, but here was an opportunity that would never be available again. Resolving to act on this desire, Raniya rented a house, and in subsequent days bought furnishings for it.

Once the house was ready, she followed Hassan discreetly while she tried to gather enough boldness to approach him. In the jewelers’ market, she watched as he went to a jeweler, showed him a necklace set with ten gemstones, and asked him how much he would pay for it. Raniya recognized it as one Hassan had given to her in the days after their wedding; she had not known he had once tried to sell it. She stood a short distance away and listened, pretending to look at some rings.

"Bring it back tomorrow, and I will pay you a thousand dinars,” said the jeweler. Young Hassan agreed to the price, and left.

As she watched him leave, Raniya overheard two men talking nearby:

"Did you see that necklace? It is one of ours."

"Are you certain?” asked the other.

"I am. That is the bastard who dug up our chest."

"Let us tell our captain about him. After this fellow has sold his necklace, we will take his money, and more."

The two men left without noticing Raniya, who stood with her heart racing but her body motionless, like a deer after a tiger has passed. She realized that the treasure Hassan had dug up must have belonged to a band of thieves, and these men were two of its members. They were now observing the jewelers of Cairo to identify the person who had taken their loot.

Raniya knew that since she possessed the necklace, the young Hassan could not have sold it. She also knew that the thieves could not have killed Hassan. But it could not be Allah's will for her to do nothing. Allah must have brought her here so that he might use her as his instrument.

Raniya returned to the Gate of Years, stepped through to her own day, and at her house found the
necklace in her jewelry box. Then she used the Gate of Years again, but instead of entering it from the left side, she entered it from the right, so that she visited the Cairo of twenty years later. There she sought out her older self, now an aged woman. The older Raniya greeted her warmly, and retrieved the necklace from her own jewelry box. The two women then rehearsed how they would assist the young Hassan.

The next day, the two thieves were back with a third man, whom Raniya assumed was their captain. They all watched as Hassan presented the necklace to the jeweler.

As the jeweler examined it, Raniya walked up and said, “What a coincidence! Jeweler, I wish to sell a necklace just like that.” She brought out her necklace from a purse she carried.

"This is remarkable,” said the jeweler. “I have never seen two necklaces more similar."

Then the aged Raniya walked up. “What do I see? Surely my eyes deceive me!” And with that she brought out a third identical necklace. “The seller sold it to me with the promise that it was unique. This proves him a liar."

"Perhaps you should return it,” said Raniya.

"That depends,” said the aged Raniya. She asked Hassan, “How much is he paying you for it?"

"A thousand dinars,” said Hassan, bewildered.

"Really! Jeweler, would you care to buy this one too?"

"I must reconsider my offer,” said the jeweler.

While Hassan and the aged Raniya bargained with the jeweler, Raniya stepped back just far enough to hear the captain berate the other thieves. “You fools,” he said. “It is a common necklace. You would have us kill half the jewelers in Cairo and bring the guardsmen down upon our heads.” He slapped their heads and led them off.

Raniya returned her attention to the jeweler, who had withdrawn his offer to buy Hassan's necklace. The older Raniya said, “Very well. I will try to return it to the man who sold it to me.” As the older woman left, Raniya could tell that she smiled beneath her veil.

Raniya turned to Hassan. “It appears that neither of us will sell a necklace today."

"Another day, perhaps,” said Hassan.

"I shall take mine back to my house for safekeeping,” said Raniya. “Would you walk with me?"

Hassan agreed, and walked with Raniya to the house she had rented. Then she invited him in, and offered him wine, and after they had both drunk some, she led him to her bedroom. She covered the windows with heavy curtains and extinguished all lamps so that the room was as dark as night. Only then did she remove her veil and take him to bed.

Raniya had been flush with anticipation for this moment, and so was surprised to find that Hassan's movements were clumsy and awkward. She remembered their wedding night very clearly; he had been confident, and his touch had taken her breath away. She knew Hassan's first meeting with the young Raniya was not far away, and for a moment did not understand how this fumbling boy could change so quickly. And then of course the answer was clear.

So every afternoon for many days, Raniya met Hassan at her rented house and instructed him in the art of love, and in doing so she demonstrated that, as is often said, women are Allah's most wondrous creation. She told him, “The pleasure you give is returned in the pleasure you receive,” and inwardly she smiled as she thought of how true her words really were. Before long, he gained the expertise she remembered, and she took greater enjoyment in it than she had as a young woman.

All too soon, the day arrived when Raniya told the young Hassan that it was time for her to leave. He knew better than to press her for her reasons, but asked her if they might ever see each other again. She told him, gently, no. Then she sold the furnishings to the house's owner, and returned through the Gate of Years to the Cairo of her own day.

When the older Hassan returned from his trip to Damascus, Raniya was home waiting for him. She greeted him warmly, but kept her secrets to herself.


Номинация «Публицистика»

The pedophile Santa of global capitalism

by Mark Steyn, Syndicated columnist
Friday, December 26, 2008

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/chri … ives-grown


I was at the mall two days before Christmas, and it was strangely quiet. So quiet that, sadly, I was able to hear every word of Kelly Clarkson bellowing over the sound system "My Grown-Up Christmas List." Don't get me wrong – I love seasonal songs. "Winter Wonderland" – I dig it. "Rudolph" – man, he's cool, albeit not as literally as Frosty. But "Grown-Up Christmas List" is one of those overwrought ballads of melismatic bombast made for the "American Idol" crowd. It's all about how the singer now eschews asking Santa for materialist goodies – beribboned trinkets and gaudy novelties – in favor of selfless grown-up stuff like world peace.

Which is an odd sentiment to hear at a shopping mall.
But it seems to have done the trick. "Retail Sales Plummet," read the Christmas headline in The Wall Street Journal. "Sales plunged across most categories on shrinking consumer spending."

Hey, that's great news, isn't it? After all, everyone knows Americans consume too much. What was it that then Sen. Obama said on the subject? "We can't just keep driving our SUVs, eating whatever we want, keeping our homes at 72 degrees at all times regardless of whether we live in the tundra or the desert and keep consuming 25 percent of the world's resources with just 4 percent of the world's population, and expect the rest of the world to say, 'You just go ahead, we'll be fine.'"

And boy, we took the great man's words to heart. SUV sales have nose-dived, and 72 is no longer your home's thermostat setting but its current value expressed as a percentage of what you paid for it. If I understand then Sen. Obama's logic, in a just world Americans would be 4 percent of the population and consume 4 percent of the world's resources. And in these past few months we've made an excellent start toward that blessed utopia: Americans are driving smaller cars, buying smaller homes, giving smaller Christmas presents.

And yet, strangely, President-elect Barack Obama doesn't seem terribly happy about the Obamafication of the U.S. economy. He's proposing some 5.7 bazillion dollar "stimulus" package or whatever it is now to "stimulate" it back into its bad old ways.

And how does the rest of the world, of whose tender sensibilities then-Sen. Obama was so mindful, feel about the collapse of American consumer excess? They're aghast, they're terrified, they're on a one-way express elevator down the abyss with no hope of putting on the brakes unless the global economy can restore aggregate demand.

What does all that mumbo-jumbo about "aggregate demand" mean? Well, that's a fancy term for you – yes, you, Joe Lardbutt, the bloated, disgusting embodiment of American excess, driving around in your Chevy Behemoth, getting two blocks to the gallon as you shear the roof off the drive-thru lane to pick up your $7.93 decaf gingersnap-mocha-pepperoni-zebra mussel frappuccino, which makes for a wonderful thirst-quencher after you've been working up a sweat watching the plasma TV in your rec room with the thermostat set to 87. The message from the European political class couldn't be more straightforward: If you crass, vulgar Americans don't ramp up the demand, we're kaput. Unless you get back to previous levels of planet-devastating consumption, the planet is screwed.

"Much of the load will fall on the U.S.," wrote Martin Wolf in The Financial Times, "largely because the Europeans, Japanese and even the Chinese are too inert, too complacent, or too weak." The European Union has 500 million people, compared with America's 300 million. Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are advanced economies whose combined population adds up to that of the United States. Many EU members have enjoyed for decades the enlightened progressive policies that Americans won't be getting until Jan. 20. Why then are they so "inert" that their economic fortunes depend on the despised, moronic Yanks?

Ah, well. To return to Kelly Clarkson – and Barbra Streisand and Michael Buble and Amy Grant – the striking thing about their "Grown-Up Christmas List" is how childish it is. The vocalist tells Santa that what she wants for Christmas is:
"No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start…"

Whether wars start depends on the intended target's ability to deter. As to "lives torn apart," that, too, is a matter of being on the receiving end. If you're in an African dictatorship, your life can be torn apart. If you're in a society that values individual liberty, you'll at least get a shot at tearing your own life apart – you'll make bad choices, marry a ne'er-do-well, blow your savings, lose your job – but these are ultimately within your power to correct. The passivity of the lyric – the "lives" that get "torn apart" is very revealing. A state in which lives aren't torn apart will be, by definition, totalitarian: As in "The Stepford Wives" or "The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers," we'll all be wandering around in glassy-eyed conformity. "Lives" will no longer be "torn apart" because they're no longer lives, but simply the husks of a centrally controlled tyranny.

To live is messy but liberating: free societies enable the citizenry to fulfill their potential – to innovate, to create, to accumulate – while recognizing that some of their number will fail. But to attempt to insulate free peoples from moral hazard is debilitating and ultimately fatal. To Martin Wolf's list of a Europe "too inert, too complacent, too weak," we might add "too old": Healthy societies recharge their batteries by the aged and wealthy lending their savings to the young and eager. But Germany is a population of prosperous seniors with no grandchildren to lend to. Japan is a society of great invention with insufficient youth to provide a domestic market. That's why if you're Sony or IKEA or any other great global brand, you want access to America for your product. That's why economic recovery will be driven by the U.S., and not by euro-Japanese entities long marinated in Obamanomics.

One final thought on "My Grown-Up Christmas List". The first two lines always give me a chuckle:
"Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee…"

When was the last time you saw a child sit upon a Santa's knee? Rod Liddle in the British Spectator reports that at a top London department store Santa sits at one end of the bench while a large "X" directs the moppet to a place down the other end, well out of arm's reach. For even Santa Claus is just another pedophile in waiting. Naughty or nice? Who really knows? Best not to take any chances. That's another way societies seize up – by obsessing on phantom threats rather than real ones.

Are free peoples now merely vulnerable infants in need of protection from the pedophile Santa of global capitalism? This is the issue that will determine the future: Euro-style state-directed protectionist sclerosis versus individual liberty in all its messiness. I know what I want on my "Grown-Up Christmas List."

©MARK STEYN

Номинация «Поэзия»

What is a youth
By Nino Rota


What is a youth?
Impetuous fire.
What is a maid?
Ice and desire.
The world wags on

A rose will bloom,
It then will fade.
So does a youth.
So does the fairest maid.

Comes a time
When one sweet smile
Has its season for awhile.
Then Love’s in love with me

Some may think only to marry,
Others will tease and tarry.
Mine is the very best parry,
Cupid he rules us all.

Caper the caper; sing me the song,
Death will come soon to hush us along
Sweeter than honey and bitter as gall,
Love is the pastime that never will pall.
Sweeter than honey and bitter as gall,
Cupid he rules us all.

A rose will bloom,
It then will fade.
So does a youth.
So does the fairest maid.

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#2 2009-03-29 12:00:55

alpha--ray
Member

Re: Конкурсные тексты (англ.)

Не терпится пообсуждать переводы!!!!!! =)))


Вы только что начали читать предложение, чтение которого уже заканчиваете.

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