Thursday, 1 March 2012

"Revenge of the Wandering Whore" and other top titles



While I'm still struggling to find a name for novel number two, German TV broadcasts a series with this title-to-beat-all-titles: "Revenge of the Wandering Whore" ("Die Rache der Wanderhure"). 
It's a medieval romp starring... a wandering whore.
Beautiful.

This got me thinking about titles. Especially foreign titles. I'm a bit obsessed with titles: I love it when they contain a bit of a surprise, a bit of contradiction, a bit of "ooh, I wonder what this wandering whore might be up to."


So in the interest of diversity and multi-culturalism, I thought I'd list my top ten foreign book/film titles. Some are lovely, some are clever, some are downright silly. Here we go:

1. Ok, it has to be Revenge of the Wandering Whore. ("Marie, a wandering whore in the Middle Ages, is on a quest to find her lost husband...")

 2. My Father is a Cleaning Lady (Mon pere est femme de menage), a novel by Saphia Azzeddine about a boy growing up in a gritty French suburb. This is the sort of witty and melodic title that makes me go green with envy.


3. Love in the Time of Cholera (El amor en los tiempos del colera)... and almost every other Garcia Marquez title: "The Autumn of the Patriarch", "A Hundred Years of Solitude"...

4. Life is not a Cucumber Sandwich (Das Leben ist kein Gurkensandwich). The German title of my friend Ceri Radford's brilliant, funny debut, "A Surrey State of Affairs." The original title is nice, but I just love Life is not a Cucumber Sandwich. It's so... quotable.
 
5. Coffee... with the scent of a woman. (Cafe, con aroma de mujer). Another glorious soap title from Colombia, the country that brought you Yo Soy Betty, la fea (why did they opt for "Ugly Betty" in the U.S.? I am... has so much more bite)

6. Amerika (Amerika) by Franz Kafka. This is a new translation and they kept the "K"of the original - quite cleverly, I think, given that it's the story of a German immigrant in America.

7. Some Prefer Nettles (Tade kuu mushi) by Junichiro Tanizaki. Apparently the title refers to a Japanese proverb: "There's even an insect that likes to eat knotweed [nettles]" ("Tade kuu mushi mo suki-zuki"), ie, there's no accounting for taste.

8. The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Religious writing often has that special something. See also: The Apocalypse, City of God, The Song of Songs.


9. Czech titles, eg "Whatever happened to Wenceslas?", "Badly timed emigre", and of course "The Unbearable Lightness of Being." Czech writers have a way with titles. Also, just out of interest: whatever happened to Wenceslas? 


10. You decide! Thai and Egyptian soap operas look quite promising but I can't understand the titles. I almost went for "When A Woman Doesn't Understand, She Falls In Love" ("La donna quando non capisce si innamora"), but it's a bit too tediously sexist... not that Wandering Whore is a feminist manifesto...

3 comments:

  1. How about : Teatime for the traditionally built?

    Alexander McCall Smith has some really good ones!

    xx
    Liesbeth

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  2. Love the new cover of The Registrar - love the conspiratorial pastiche of fonts - and of love course the teapot!!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I got my first two freshly baked paperbacks yesterday - they do look very nice, and a bit more thriller-y than the hardback (in a tempting way).
      Liesbeth, I love that title; makes me hungry.
      x

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