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Thread: 'хотя и не привлекающий к себе персонаж'

  1. #1
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    'хотя и не привлекающий к себе персонаж'

    From Bulgakov's 'Master and Margarita'...

    I translate this as 'even though not attracting to (him?)self character.'
    Is this a way of saying 'even though not of attractive (to one character.
    (* 'one' meaning 'anyone' in this context?)

    The participle has me confused; I would read it as 'attracting', as it's the present active participle (or at least i hope it is...) Can it just mean 'attractive'? As far as I can see, there isn't anything in the verb 'привлекать' to suggest that it means 'to be atractive'.

    Anyway, it seems like an odd way of saying 'of unattractive character'...

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    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    This is not about appearance as in good looking. If it was the case, привлекательный would have been used. The structure in question means "a character not possessing any qualities that would make one take an intrest in them", one without any spice, not complelling if you will Also it in no way means "unattractive", just awully ordinary in all aspects.
    I do not claim that my opinion is absolutely true.
    If you've spotted any mistake in my English, please, correct it. I want to be aware of any mistakes to efficiently eliminate them before they become a habit.

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    Ah, that makes sense, especially when you mentioned 'привлекательный'. So 'себе' in this case means 'anyone', and 'персонаж' means the personality of the subject of the sentence, is that correct? Sometimes I just find sentences difficult to parse...

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    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    К себе means "to themselves" and персонаж means a character/person/personage. All is applicable to our phrase naturally.

    хотя и не привлекающий к себе персонаж - a person not attracting (attention) to themselves. We have a set phrase "привлекать/привлечь внимание", which means pretty much the same as "attract attention". This is where the whole structure comes from.

    Anyway, could you provide the whole sentence, coz you know context is everything and I kind of automatically assumed a certain context here. Although, I'm sure my previous assumption was correct, but still the whole sentence will not hurt.
    I do not claim that my opinion is absolutely true.
    If you've spotted any mistake in my English, please, correct it. I want to be aware of any mistakes to efficiently eliminate them before they become a habit.

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    The whole sentence is:

    "Трудно сказать, что именно подвело Ивана Николаевича – изобразительная ли сила его таланта или полное незнакомство с вопросом, по которому он собирался писать, – но Иисус в его изображении получился ну совершенно как живой, хотя и не привлекающий к себе персонаж. "

    Bulgakov again...

    So does it sort of mean "..., even though he was a 'not-attracting-attention-to-himself' kind of person."?
    But with the word attention (внимание) missed out because it's part of a stock phrase, already known to the intended reader?

    The translation I have from another source (I can't find the link now...) is:-

    "It is hard to say what precisely had let Ivan Nikolaevich down - the descriptive powers of his talent or a total unfamiliarity with the question he was writing about - but his Jesus came out, well, completely alive, the once-existing Jesus, though, true, a Jesus furnished with all negative features.

    The last bit seems a bit of a 'loose' translation to me.

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    Yes, context is important. It is not about "attention". It is about positive feelings to (book) hero (simpathy, liking). Writer was about to write character of Jesus as bad person. Person who "you can't like".
    iCake likes this.

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    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    Yep, it means pretty much what I told you from the start. But the whole context makes it even more interesting. So as Alex80 mentioned Ivan Nikolaevich had intended to portray Jesus in a bad way, as someone you wouldn't like. But the end result was quite different, his Jesus looked very lifelike, although without any feature that would make one to take interest in him beyond that. In other words, good but not great. There is also some wondering what kept Ivan Nikolaevich from succeeding in making a repulsive Jesus, iit was either his great talent or his ignorance of the matter.

    P.S. I really like the way the author expressed that idea. Even that one little sentence shows the true scope of his talent. He used a somewhat complicated structure, yet he still managed to make it perfectly clear to anyone who can read. (Anyone who speaks Russian as their first language. Do not take offense here ) Even more than that, the whole phrase is filled with bitter irony. I can really picture the frustration of the portrayer
    I do not claim that my opinion is absolutely true.
    If you've spotted any mistake in my English, please, correct it. I want to be aware of any mistakes to efficiently eliminate them before they become a habit.

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    Завсегдатай maxmixiv's Avatar
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    Could we translate is so that the character was unapproachable ? (неприветливый?колючий?)
    "Невозможно передать смысл иностранной фразы, не разрушив при этом её первоначальную структуру."

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    I've only read about the first thousand words of this book (it takes me ages), but he has a great way of gently mocking his subjects, and his descriptions are concise, colourful and engaging. An enjoyable read. Just difficult for me to decypher some of the subtleties! I probably wouldnt get very far without the help I get here; I'd just get stuck and stay stuck, so thanks to all.

    I think maybe Ivan Nikolaevich's Jesus could be described as 'unpreposessing;' lacking any memorable qualities, maybe a bit bland...
    If you describe someone as 'unnapproachable' (недоступный?,) it usually means that they look like they would be unfriendly; maybe because they are obviously high status, beautiful, or they just look arrogant or think they are better than you. But you may have a point; неприветливый and колючий seem to mean something similarto unnapproachable, except that 'unnapproachable' suggests that the unnapproachable one is of higher status than the person wanting to approach them, rather than being 'undesirable/unattractive' and beneath them. Maybe Bulgakov did mean that Jesus was depicted as an 'undesirable'.

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    ...lacking any memorable qualities, maybe a bit bland...
    This is that we thought it means before knowing of context. As if 'attention' was omitted.
    But with context it is not about 'attention' only, but about whole preception of character as a good person. 'Attractive' in the moral/ethic sense.
    I can try to translate it as "...he was not person who anyone likes..." or something.

  11. #11
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    I re-read what I wrote, and the original text, and took into account what you and maxmixiv had said, and yes, you are quite right, it seems to refer to his personality being unattractive/undesirable. It's amazing how much discussion even a tiny detail needs before it truely makes sense... thanks for your patience.

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