These stories, taken from The Book of Yelps and Growls, have been translated from the original yelps and growls in which they are traditionally told. The gigantic task of this difficult translation was undertaken by the count Florian von Banier in 1795, while he convalesced in the Carpathian Mountains. What was his ailment? I do not know...some say it was a deep wound to his right thigh that he was awarded for his valor in battle. Some say it was tuberculosis. Still others claim that the recuperation was necessary due to other constitutional weaknesses (the count was commonly held to be of the Natrum Muriaticum constitution). At any rate, upon his recovery the translation project was quickly abandoned and the count returned to his more reckless divertissements.

The Despot and the Wolf

The Red Sea

The Red Sea and Time Fable

The Pilgrim's Visit

Give Thanks that You Are Not a Poor Urchin

The Damned May Be Good Neighbors, But They are Still the Damned

Raw War

We Cannot Breathe, We Cannot Breathe

The Troubled Maid

Audrey and the Elephant

Spend Your Youth on the Sea, Your Old Age on Dry Land

An Old Woman's Sentiment is Delicately Spun, and Yet We Find It Stronger Than Time

Judith Apprehends a Vision of Horses

The Old Man at Moontime

The Portrait Archive

(I am in the process of noding additional titles, all of the above plus any others that I am able to find will eventually be noded)

A little-discussed fact by fableists and literary critics of the Englightment period, in a tradition that continues right up to today, is the central place that the Vonbainierean translations held in the literary imagination of the time. In fact, it has been claimed by one scholar that:

"These translations were essential to the development of the concept of the novel, originally begun by Cervantes but proferred most of all perhaps by Chaucer. Later the concept of the novel was expanded by the likes of Charles Dickens, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Edgar Allen Poe who were all avid readers of these translations as well as von Banier's little-known original text, The Art of Writing Translations, a brilliant treatise expounding on the thesis of the semantic originality of translated texts. It should hardly be required to note the influence of Florian von Banier on the Brothers Grimm and their authoring of Grimm's Fairy Tales, but due to an unfortunate episode later in von Banier's life his influence was duly neglected by critics of his time. This unfortunately resulted in a widespread ignorance of his works until I unearthed them some fifteen years ago." (from the preface to Kurt Leipzfeld's Aufklarung Rhetorik, Leipzig, Fischer Bucherei, 1973, my translation).

Leipzfeld's conclusion has met with more critical success in recent years, but for almost two centuries the central place of von Banier's translations of these fables into book form was ignored. Leipzfeld can be credited for brining Von Banier back into the popular imagination as well as The Book of Yelps and Growls itself. His excellent analysis of von Banier's influence on the Brothers Grimm in Stolen Myths (1967), and his influence in a more widespread literary sense described in Our Fable of Tropes (1973), first spread through German and European universities (with the notable exception of the Department of Germanic Literatures at Tubingen) and finally over the Atlantic with the aid of Buffalo University professor Johannes Schroeder and the famous Yale scholar Paul de Man who often spoke of The Art of Writing Translations in conversation with friends and students, though wrote on this text rarely.

It is now more widely accepted (though still not as much in American departments of Germanic Literatures and certainly Von Banier is nearly nonexistent in the British Academic System) that von Banier's translations served as a paradigm for fablists like Poe and Grimm as well as many other novelists, fablists, essayists, and short fiction writers. (It has even been said that Poe's short story The Purloined Letter in which themes of translation, interpretation, and semantic originality are all tropically present is a re-writing of von Banier's translation of Stolen Letters first published posthumously in Von Banier's other work of translation, Collected Papers of Florian Von Banier. On this see the node Poe and Von Banier (still unwritten).)

Regardless of their historical situation, these are brilliant fables, depicting a wide range of themes common to human experience in the West. Any reader looking for readings on themes such as: marriage, sex, love, evil, friendship, compassion, war, technology, speech, meaning, or sing-song is recommended to pick up a copy and enjoy. The most recent impression I am aware of is by Greenleaf Books (New York, NY) printed in 1985.

Or, simply read the nodes digitized here on E2 by the cipher and jderrida.

The Book of Yelps and Growls is Apocrypha

It is largely due to the work of Kurt Leipzfeld that students in Enlightenment literature have increasingly accepted the translation work of Florian von Banier as a canonical text for literature of this period. As the user above (clever name, Jacques) writes, this opinion was also supposedly expressed by the famous Yale scholar Paul de Man on several occasions, though he never expressed his admiration for von Banier in writing. Though Leipzfeld's books on von Banier are certainly well-writen and worth the read, their historical accuracy is far from substantiated in my mind.

More recent studies, particularly by a Nova Scotian professor by the name of Larry MacDonald, have revealed a different picture of von Banier's literary genius. In my own work on von Banier (see my Ph.D. thesis under MacDonald at Acadia University entitled "Apocrypha und Aufklarung"), I have come to a distrust of some of Leipzfeld's more central conclusions. Though von Banier was certainly a literary genius and a profound influence on English-writing novelists such as Dickens and Poe, it is by no means certain that von Banier himself inluenced the Brothers Grimm or the fairy tale genre at all. Von Banier's profound work in The Art of Writing Translations is a rhetorical tour de force in which he handily and convincingly deals with the question of literary originality by means of a profound reading of Plato's Phaedrus and more popular fiction from his own time (this book is certainly one of the causes of de Man's interest in von Banier owing to its proximity to Derrida's work in Dissemenations). However, it is far from clear, in fact it is downright questionable, that The Book of Yelps and Growls is a work which von Banier translated. In fact, my researches have shown that this book could not possibly be a translation at all. Furthermore, it is extremely questionable whether or not von Banier had any hand in their penning.

Leipzfeld's chief evidence for attributing the translation of this book to von Banier is a note found in the apocryphal collection The Collected Works of Florian von Banier that were supposedly found on him at the time of his death. However, that these works are authored by von Banier himself is highly doubtful. A close reading of von Banier's book on translation reveals, furthermore, that he often used TBYG as a demonstration of the points outlined in The Art of Writing Translations, though nowhere states knowledge of either the original work, or its original translation. In fact, certain clues have been found which show that von Banier in fact questioned the status of any such 'original' (and it is certainly a concept he had difficulty with on a more theoretical level). Evidence shows that von Banier reproduced The Book of Yelps and Growls as an appendix to some editions of his The Art of Writing Translations (particularly editions he had published in Japan towards the very end of his life). In a rare copy of a text unearthed in the archives at Berlin University we can read this 2nd preface to the Japanese Edition of the book published by a certain printing house named Kegiboshi:

"My wide readership in your fine country, which I have made my home for the past weeks, justifies the translation of this text into the Japanese. I hope that my work will lead to fine translations of many German and English texts into the Japanese language, a language of such profound and destructive simplicity that I almost stumble with each spoken breath when I sit in the afternoon's and enjoy long and casual conversations with my friends. Your language is as beautiful as your country. It brings me such pleasure to hear it, as it does to witness the beauty of your oceans, trees, and tea ceremonies...
I have also had printed here as an appendix The Book of Yelps and Growls, which is widely available throughout Europe though only the most careful scholars of your land have procurred their own copies. As the text is not gaurded by any copyright laws I am here making it widely available to those interested here. As you will read in the text below, I find this work an excellent demonstration of certain techniques of translation, though the question of its original translation is of course much unsettled, owing to the lack of availability of any text we may wish to call 'the original'. I refer to this book many times in the book printed below as demonstrations of the different sorts of translational difficulties and tropes I outline, and as such any reader of my book deserves adequate access to a copy of The Book of Yelps and Growls." (note: emphasis mine, -GM)

This preface, unavailable to Leipzfeld in his day, surely settles the question of the apocryphal nature of The Book of Yelps and Growls. In deference to briefness, I will here give end to this exposition referring the interested reader both to my thesis named above and chapters 5 through 7 of MacDonald's Apocrypha and the Enlightenment (forthcoming from New Directions in Canada).

Gerland McGrouder
Note of Preface: Mr. McGrouder (user name untext) has found this community of Florian Von Banier scholars, and as one such scholar, I feel that my advice on these matters would be prudent, and perhaps could stimulate a discussion of the integrity (or lack thereof) of Leiptzfeld's readings of TBYG.

In support of Mr. McGrouder's thesis above (which is also of course my thesis, our co-thesis, if you will, readers of E2), let me offer an argument in its favor. The thesis that concerns me is this: that TBYG is in fact not a translation from "the original yelps and growls" as mistated by the writer named cipher in the text above.

Of interest to me here is the conceptual difficulty with this notion of translating "yelps and growls". How is a text to be derived from "yelps and growls"? Was Von Banier an anthropologist, relaying stories from a primitive tribe, like the tales of the Yanomamo Indians from South America? This would not fit with the image of him I have sketched in my biographical researches. Von Banier in fact often refused contact with all except the closest of his associates. Certainly he was not a researcher of 'primitive' cultures. If anything, he was a humanist, a student of such cultures. For him to refer to a civilization, or tribe, as "yelpers and growlers" would not fit with my image of him as a devoted student of other civilizations.

Further, it is well known that in the vernacular of his day, the phrase "yelps and growls" was meant to refer to the slang of the 'barbaric' nations (the Mongols, the Africans, etc.). To claim that Von Banier used this term in anything other than an ironic sense is highly tendentious. In a facsimile of a letter that was sent to me by a Japanese scholar of medieval literature (carbon dating has verified the age of the parchment upon which the dirty script was written) we read the following, to which the Count signed his beautifully-written name:

"The name 'yelps' or 'growls' or 'hums' is not a name for the language of a culture that is inmagnificent, but is only the name for the ignorance and lack of compassion of the person who profanes any culture's language with such a name. To disrespect a people, a life, by referring to their most integral activity, speech, the love of speech, as 'yelps and growls' is only to disrespect one's own ability to have compassion, understanding, and above all to be educated in the ways of the world, in precise and complex forms of life that other people have developed over millenia, since the birth of time, as it was accorded by our great God, Jehovah, or Nameless One. When I write that my book is a translation from 'yelps and growls' I can only mean this with a mouthful of grapes, speaking through fruit--I know this will come as a difficulty for you to understand, but it is also difficult for me to write to you with anything but secret intentions, because there are always eyes watching over my hand, as you have warned me--If I use such a term, it is in the way that a cat would write." (Translation Mine, -LM).

Von Banier was only a friend of the so-called 'barbaric nations', in the humanistic sense. He reportedly wrote to a friend in China: "The people of the world are my business, and it is because I love them". To imagine, then, that he would translate foreigners' tales into his own language and refer to these translations as 'yelps and growls' is quite difficult in my eyes. If anything, these tales and fables are not translations, but Von Banier's own original masterpieces, written for both creative purposes and as a demonstration of the theses laid forth in his The Art of Writing Translations (as claimed by Mr. McGrouder above).

(Note: still uncomfirmed in the West (to my knowledge), an archive of Von Banier's letters apparently sit in the back room of a library in Nairobi. This would lead us to believe in his close contact with some scholar or student in Africa, a place to which he little referred, but when he did, it was with great affections. (I am hoping to confirm this with the aid of a grant for research, I will provide details if there is sufficient interest on this 'list'.))

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