It is difficult to miss the upcoming birthday of John Lennon. Just use Google and click on the doodle. But the anniversary is celebrated in other ways as well. While reading the paper over breakfast (yes, I still read a dead-tree newspaper), I found an article about a new omnibus edition of Lennon’s two books, In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works.
John Lennon’s books go back a long way. In His Own Write was published in 1964 and A Spaniard in the Works the following year. The L.A. Times article may give you an idea of the linguistic challenges. JL writes in his own introduction to the book among other things:
As a member of the most publified Beatles my and (P, G, and R’s) records may seem funnier to some of you than this book, but as far as I’m conceived this correction of short writty is the most wonderfoul larf I’ve ever ready.
God help and breed you all.
And that’s a benign example!
Yellowing away in my bookshelves are the first German editions of the two Lennon books, In seiner eigenen Schreibe and Ein Spanier macht noch keinen Sommer. According to the dates written in purple (!) ink, I purchased them in 1966 and 1967. Considering the accumulated puns, nonsensical word constructs and culture-specific references, I have the greatest respect for the courage of the translators Helmut Kossodo and Wolf D. Rogosky to even have tackled those books. The outcome is remarkable and holds up really well even after 40-something years. Here is the German version of the above passage (though you really should read more of the books if you have a chance):
Als Mitglied der hochgepriesten Beatles mögen meine (und P. G. und R’s) Platten Euch komischer erscheinen als dieses Buch, aber es ist meine feste Erzeugung, daß diese Stammlung von Kurzgekichten die wunderfaulste Lache ist, die ich jemals losgelassen habe.
Gott säge und verhüte Euch.