Reading for learners: Ivan Bunin

Here is a reading about Ivan Bunin, the Russian writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. I don’t use italics anymore, as they destroy the layout for some reason.


Saolaíodh Ivan Bunin sa bhliain 1870 (míle ocht gcéad deich is trí scór) faoin tuath sa chúige timpeall ar chathair Voronezh. Daoine uaisle ab ea a mhuintir agus bród air as a chuid sinsear. Duine acu siúd ab ea an file Zhukovsky a bhí beo i dtús na naoú haoise déag, agus mar sin is féidir a rá go raibh an fhilíocht i ndúchas Bunin. Bhí an teaghlach saibhir ar dtús, ach ansin chuaigh athair Bunin ar an drabhlás, nó thosaigh sé ag craosaireacht óil agus ag cearrbhachas, agus chaill sé an chuid ba mhó dá raibh de mhaoin shaolta aige.


“saolaíodh” was born. Note that it is an autonomous verb, not a passive, and it is followed by the object form: “saolaíodh é” = he was born. (Similarly, “rugadh é” = he was born.) The principal parts of the verb (imperative and verbal noun) are saolaigh!/saolú.


“is féidir a rá go raibh an fhilíocht i ndúchas Bunin” = it is possible to say that poetry was in Bunin’s blood. Dúchas means basically (instinctive) nature as opposed to nurture. 


“chuaigh…ar an drabhlás” = went to the dogs, started to lead a life of drinking and other kinds of debauchery. “Mac an drabhláis” or “an mac drabhlásach” can be used for “the prodigal son” in the Biblical sense, although Ó Dónaill suggests “an mac díobhlásach”. That’s fine, although drabhlás and drabhlásach are more common and frequent in today’s Irish.


craosaireacht means acting like a craosaire, i.e. a glutton; but craosaireacht óil (óil is the genitive case of ól = the act of drinking) means excessive drinking (of alcohol).


cearrbhachas = gambling. A gambler is cearrbhach.


dá raibh de mhaoin shaolta aige: Dá is here the combination of de + a. De is the preposition meaning “of”. This “a” is more complicated. It is not a normal relative pronoun, but it is the all-inclusive one, meaning “all that”. It is followed by the dependent form of the irregular verb.


maoin shaolta: Maoin is one of the Irish words meaning property, riches, wealth, and it is feminine: an mhaoin, na maoine. Saolta means secular, earthly, worldly. Thus, maoin shaolta = worldly wealth, worldly goods. 


D’fhoilsigh Ivan Bunin an chéad dán sa bhliain 1887 (míle ocht gcéad seacht is ceithre scór) ar an iris úd Rodina (is é sin, “An Tír Dhúchais”) i gCathair Pheadair. Ceithre bliana ina dhiaidh sin tháinig an chéad ghearrscéal leis i gcló ar iris eile, mar atá, Russkoye Bogatstvo (“Saibhreas na Rúise”). Sna 1890idí (míle ocht gcéad nóchaidí) chuir Bunin aithne ar scríbhneoirí eile, agus d’éirigh sé mór le hAnton Chekhov, a bhí ina scríbhneoir chlúiteach drámaí agus gearrscéalta cheana féin. Cara eile ab ea Maksim Gorky, agus ar feadh tamaill bhí leabhair Bunin ag dul i gcló ag teach foilsitheoireachta Gorky, “Znanie” (“Eolas”).


Cathair Pheadair “St. Petersburg”


chuir Bunin aithne ar scríbhneoirí eile “he got acquainted with, made the acquaintance of, other writers”. You could also say: fuair Bunin aithne ar scríbhneoirí eile.


bhí leabhair Bunin ag dul i gcló “Bunin’s books were being published”. Note that while something “is published” in English, it usually “comes into print” or “goes into print” in Irish (tháinig sé i gcló, tháinig sé i bprionta, chuaigh sé i gcló, chuaigh sé i bprionta = it was published).


Bhí Bunin ina fhile i dtús a ghairmréime, ach timpeall ar chasadh an chéid chuaigh sé le prós. Ba iad na gearrscéalta a thuill a chlú dó ansin leis an stíl speisialta a chleachtadh sé iontu. Prós fileata a bhí iontu, agus na comhcheangail smaointe ní ba thábhachtaí ná ordú cróineolaíoch na n-imeachtaí. Sa deireadh thiar thall ba é an t-úrscéal úd “Zhizn’ Arsenyeva” (“Saol Arsenyev”) a thabhaigh Duais Nobel sa Litríocht dó. Ghlac a lán léitheoirí leis gur úrscéal dírbheathaisnéisiúil a bhí ann, ach cé gur tharraing an t-údar ar imeachtaí a shaoil féin ar lorg mianaigh agus smaointí, níorbh ionann Arsenyev – laoch an úrscéil – agus Bunin féin ar aon nós.


i dtús a ghairmréime “in the beginning of his career”. Gairmréim is the word nowadays used for “professional career”, and while it might not be an ancient word, it is easy to understand and looks perfectly Irish.


casadh an chéid “the turn of the century”


chuaigh sé le prós “he devoted himself to prose”


comhcheangail smaointe “associations (of thoughts)”


ordú cróineolaíoch “chronological order”


sa deireadh thiar thall “at the end of the day”


tabhaigh/tabhú “to earn” (especially in the sense “to earn something to someone”). Tuill/tuilleamh is a more common synonym; tabhaigh/tabhú feels at least to me somewhat Ulster-ish.


mianach “ore”, here in a figurative sense: literary material.


Fear de na huaisle a bhí ann, cé go ndeachaigh saibhreas a mhuintire ar lár. Cosúil leis na hintleachtóirí Rúiseacha go léir, chaith sé a sheal ag cur suime sa réabhlóideachas, agus bhí deartháir leis chomh sáite i ngnó na réabhlóide is gur gearradh téarma príosúnachta dó. Sa deireadh áfach ghlac sé fuath leis an bpolaitíocht réabhlóideach. Ba é an míniú a bhí aige air sin ná nach mbeadh in aon réabhlóid ach doirteadh fola agus anord nach gcuirfeadh bun ná tús le haon rud fónta. 


chuaigh…ar lár “went missing, was lost”


réabhlóideachas “revolution-ism”, i.e. revolutionary thought, revolutionary ideas, revolution-making


sáite i ngnó na réabhlóide “committed to the business of revolution”. Note the article usage. In English we say “revolution” when we mean revolution as an abstract, generic idea in the way it was floating around in old Russia. In Irish, an abstract, generic thing takes the article, thus “an réabhlóid”. And when a noun with the article is in genitive after another noun, you don’t put the article before that. It’s “gnó na réabhlóide” = “the business of revolution”.


gearradh téarma príosúnachta dó: a prison term was “cut” to him. In Irish, when you impose a punishment on someone, you “cut” it to him. And note that “prison term” is in Irish preferably “imprisonment term”, príosúnacht = imprisonment. To imprison someone can be príosúnaigh/príosúnú, but the idiomatic expression is “duine a chaitheamh i dtóin an phríosúin”.


ghlac sé fuath le… = he started to hate… In English, an emotion seizes you. In Irish, you seize an emotion: ghlac sé fuath, fearg, col, and so on. Ghlac sé fearg liom = he got angry with me; ghlac sé eagla romhat = he became afraid of you. (But actually, note that in other expressions, fuath “hatred” is treated not as an emotion, but as an attitude. Anger, in Irish fearg, is on you: tá fearg orm leis = I am angry with him. But hatred is at you, because it is regarded as an attitude: tá fuath agam dó/air. Do not use “tá fuath orm” in the sense “I hate”, because the preposition “ar” refers to the object of hatred, not to the person doing the hating. “Tá fuath orm” can in traditional Irish only mean “I am hated, I am an object of hatred”. This actually calls for a separate blog article.)


doirteadh fola “bloodshed”


anord “chaos”. Note: anord “chaos”, but ainriail (“non-rule”) “anarchy”.


Bhí Bunin barúlach go raibh an Daonlathas Sóisialta agus an Sóisialachas féin oiriúnach do na tíortha tionsclaíochta i Lár na hEorpa, toisc go raibh an lucht oibre iontu ag éirí ní ba láidre, ní ba mheabhraí. San am chéanna, ní raibh muinín aige as íochtaráin na Rúise, nó mar is léir óna chuid scéalta, is é an t-imprisean a d’fhág muintir bhocht na tuaithe air ná nach raibh iontu ach druncairí agus lucht bruíonachais. Dá dtriailfeadh prólatáireacht na Rúise réabhlóid a chur i gcrích, rachadh pé sibhialtas sa tír de dhroim an domhain, dar le Bunin. Bhí sé míshásta le tuairimí an aos intleachta i leith mhuintir na tuaithe freisin. Ba é barúil an scríbhneora go raibh na hintleachtóirí dall aineolach ar an aicme sin, agus iad ag idéalú na mbochtán san am chéanna.


barúlach “of the opinion”. Also “inbharúla”. Both words are typically Ulster Irish, as is “barúil” for “opinion”.


meabhrach “aware, conscious, mindful, alert”


íochtarán “lowly person”, its plural being used for “lower orders”.


imprisean “impression”


druncaire “drunkard, alcoholic”


bruíonachas “(act, activity of) trouble-making”. Lucht bruíonachais “trouble-makers”.


rachadh…de dhroim an domhain “would go the way of all flesh”


aos intleachta “intelligentsia”. Aos (masculine, gen. aosa) means “a group of people” in the sense of a social class. In such idiomatized expressions as “aos intleachta” the genitive ending of aos is not usually used. Aois “age” is a different word (but note that aos is indeed used in the meaning “age” in Kerry dialect).

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