May 10, 2010

Listen to your lady

One of my personal projects which I enjoy greatly is translating choice passages from Diana, Hubertus und Ich by the once-famous equestrian and author of sports literature, Oscar Caminneci. I know some of his surviving family through breeders' circles for wire-haired vizslas, and Oscar's nephew Manfred and his wife Ingeborg have an excellent kennel in Germany, Haus Schladern.

The author had the misfortune to be caught up in the intrigues of the Third Reich when Ulrich Scherping, the regime's Oberstjägermeister, conspired to confiscate his hunting lands. Oscar was subsequently murdered in a concentration camp.

This light-hearted tale from his book of adventures demonstrates a lesson that all men must eventually learn if they are to succeed in life. Here is the German original, published in 1935, and my free adaptation in English, published with the permission of the Caminneci family.

A Lovers' Hunt
by Oscar Caminneci

in Five Acts

translated and adapted by Kevin Lossner


Place and circumstances of the play:
Forested lands, a raised blind, a December evening and moonlight

Dramatis personae:
Mr. & Mrs. Caminneci, newly wed. It is the wife's first time in a raised blind.

Purpose of the evening's activity:
Waiting and watching, a boar hunt


Act One

He: Now you must sit still as a mouse, and in the event that something comes, you must not move nor say a thing, otherwise there's no point. I'll pay close attention and let you know if necessary.

She: Don't worry, I'll sit quietly.

The moon rises. It is peaceful, a time for meditation.


Act Two

She (barely audible): I believe something's coming.

He (somewhat more audibly): Be quiet!



Act Three

She (quietly): Oscar, there's a boar standing there.

He (somewhat louder): My God, will you shut up?!



Act Four

She (still quiet, but urgently): There it is. Very close. And it's scratching itself.

He (still quiet, but... ): Why won't you shut up at last?! If you can't clamp your beak then nothing will come for sure and we might as well go home now!


Act Five

Silence in the forest. It gets colder. It is late.

She (with resignation): Now it's gone.

He (loudly): Where? What? I didn't see a thing!

She (puzzled): But the boar was standing right there! Right in front of us! Why didn't you shoot?

He (somewhat sheepishly): Don't be silly. You just saw a ghost!

Her "ghost" left deep tracks in the virgin snow. A fir branch had blocked Oscar's view....


  1. A nice little story. We've played out the same little scene, only with investments. I've also shot at 'boars' that weren't there.

    Incidentally, "at last" sounds a bit Teutonic to me. I had the impression that Americans might say "already" in that case.

  2. One wonders a bit about the aim of "adapting" from 1st person to 3rd person / Oscar.

    Otherwise it comes neatly down to the very last passage - which is unnecessarily changed.

    Why not, as in source - "But she had not seen ghosts. The track in the virgin snow proved her right, while a fir branch had just hidden the boar from my sight.

  3. What's to wonder? When I read the original first-person narrative, this section stood out as one of the most interesting and one which stood well by itself, almost like a small play. So I restructured it a bit as a play would be written. As you should know, that is never first person in English.

    As for the "change", the condensation of the last part, I prefer the abbreviated form, which conveys the same message with a bit more subtlety. The alternative proposed here falls flat linguistically.


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