My first regular update of this blog is far overdue. Thanks to everyone who’s written in to share interest and offer to help with learning Faroese! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
I’ve been traveling around the southeast US for the past several months, affording me none of the stationary time I usually need to grind into language work, so my Faroese intake has been almost wholly English translations of Faroese source material. I’ve greatly enjoyed George Johnston’s translation of 20th century Faroese poets in the Rocky Shores anthology, and I’m working on a review of the book. I’ll post thoughts on the material soon.
I’ve recently read Edwin Abbott’s Flatland: a Romance of Many Dimensions, and I’m about to conclude Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men, both works of science fiction. I’ve always loved science fiction, from my introduction to it through monthly pulp comic books in Tennessee, to my freshman year of college in love with Ray Bradbury’s short stories, to later dabblings in hard sci-fi and more philosophical and mathematical works (such as Abbott’s and Stapledon’s).
So I’m naturally asking: what is the sci-fi readership like in the Faroes? Is is a popular literary genre? Is it regarded as literary at all? Is it read more than it’s written?
I studied a lot of science fiction as an undergraduate, much of that time spent defining (and defending) what is and isn’t properly sci-fi. The end result came out much like an attempt to define what is and isn’t properly poetry: there are a lot of gray areas.
However, one of the personal measuring sticks that I use to gauge whether something is more sci-fi or fantasy is the work’s relationship to technology. I think of something as sci-fi if it explores our relationship to technology, or explores how technology affects non-technological aspects of human existence, or any combination of those elements. I don’t even think that the technology needs to be high or non-existent technology: it’s a meditation on our relationship to machines and the natural world, a speculation on the strangeness of an imagined world that we might inhabit.
What Faroe language books exist with these concerns in mind? If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to use them as practice reading material! Alternatively, if there are any translations of popular English langauge science fictoin into Faroese, that would also be wonderful to know in order to compare my new language against one I know — to proof my reading.
I hope to provide more Anki decks for download and use within the next week. Meanwhile, for Faroese poetry lovers (or the simply curious), here’s a transcription of the bibliography found in the back of Rocky Shores along with hyperlinks to locations of the texts online. I’m going to compile as many of these as I can find into a PDF file for portable reading.
1. Borrow, George. Works, edited by Clement Shorter. London, 1923, Vol. 8, pp. 205-19. A translation of a Faroese ballad.
Johnston’s referring to Borrow’s translation of The Lay of Skrymner, which can be found here.
2. Carpenter, W. H. “The Folk Songs of the Faroe Islands,” The New Englander, Vol. 41, May 1882, pp. 406-13. A brief account of the state of the language at this date and of the ballad tradition. Lokka táttur, a ballad of 96 stanzas, is given in translation.
This article and translated poem can be accessed via Cornell University’s digital archives of The New Englander. The article starts here.
3. Kershaw, N. Stories and Ballads of the Far Past. Cambridge University Press, 1921, pp. 178-216. Contains “The Faroese Ballad of Nornagest” (pp. 178-81); “The Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr” (pp. 184-5); “The Ballad of Arngrim’s Sons” (pp. 196-211); and “Gátu Ríma” (pp. 212-16): each one with a melody.
4. Prior, R. C. Alexander. Ancient Danish Ballads. London and Edinburgh, 1860, Vol. 1, pp. 334-42. A translation of a short Faroese ballad.
This is available through Google Books. You can access the book directly here, though I’ll present the Faroese ballad in isolation.
5. Smith-Dampier, E. M., translator. Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer. A Faroese Ballad Cycle. Oxford, 1934. A translation of the most celebrated of the Faroese ballad cycles.
More bibliography to come! More of everything to come! Faroese is awesome.