The Cyberiad

Author: Stanisław Lem

ISBN: 9780156027595
Pages: 295
Description: One of the most brilliant pieces of translation I’ve ever come across. You can hardly believe that all these wonderful jokes and word-games weren’t originally composed in English. I wish I knew some Polish, so that I could compare with the original.

The most impressive sequences, which have been widely quoted, come from the story where one of the inventors builds a machine that can write a poem to any specification, no matter how bizarre. “A poem about love, treachery, indomitable courage, on the subject of a haircut, and every word to start with the letter S!” says his friend. And within a few seconds, the machine has produced:

Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
Silently scheming,
Sightlessly seeking
Some savage, spectacular suicide.

The love poem where all the metaphors come from the language of mathematics is nearly as good.

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