Thursday, July 1, 2010

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy pages 42-43

(Cross-posted from Commonplace)

Arthur let out a low groan. He was horrified to discover that the kick through hyperspace hadn't killed him. He was now six light-years from the place that the Earth would have been if it still existed.

The Earth.

Visions of it swam sickeningly through his nauseated mind. There was no way his imagination could feel the impact of the whole Earth having gone, it was too big. He prodded his feelings by thinking that his parents and his sister had gone. No reaction. Then he thought of a complete stranger he had been standing behind in the queue at the supermarket two days before and felt a sudden stab--the supermarket was gone, everyone in it was gone. Nelson's Column had gone! Nelson's Column had gone and there would be no outcry, because there was no one left to make an outcry. From now on Nelson's Column only existed in his mind--his mind, stuck here in this dank smelly steel-lined spaceship. A wave of claustrophobia closed in on him.

England no longer existed. He'd got that--somehow he'd got it. He tried again. America, he thought, was gone. He couldn't grasp it. He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He'd never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he thought, has sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every Bogart movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. McDonald's, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald's hamburger.

He passed out. When he came round a second later he found he was sobbing for his mother.

5 comments:

ASP said...

I love this book so much. <3 It is the only book of which I have more than one copy - because I have both the English original and the Croatian translation (which was, I think, the first book I bought with my own money, money I earned, when I was sixteen. I remember it was expensive, but I loved it so much I wanted to own my own copy.)

Ethan said...

I grew up on these books, I think having been introduced to them by my mother at some point lost to me in the mists of early childhood. I read and re-read all five books constantly (I think I'm one of the few people who thinks they got consistently better as they went on, up to and including Mostly Harmless, whose publication I distinctly remember impatiently awaiting when I was 10), and now I've decided to read through them again for the first time in at least ten years. Read the first one cover to cover yesterday. It's amazing, what a visceral sense of familiarity even the feel and look and smell of my particular edition has. I even remembered exactly how, say, this passage looked laid out on the page. Very comforting, and still a great book.

How does it work in Croatian? Did it get a decent translation?

ASP said...

I think the Croatian translation is okay, but, honestly, I can't really say now - because I re-read some parts in English so many times (especially the first three books) that when I tried reading them again in Croatian it just sounded wrong, and I couldn't help but constantly be aware of the fact it was a translation. I kept translating the sentences back into English and trying to remember how exactly are they phrased in the original. :D

almostinfamous said...

i always liked that part. He knocked me over with the digital watches line though. i had just got my first digital watch before i started reading this book...

have you read 'last chance to see' yet? i almost cried at the end of that one.

Ethan said...

Hah, digital watches, yeah.

Last Chance to See is a beautiful, beautiful book. I should re-read that sometime soon--I haven't read it in about ten years or maybe more. What a great person he was. Have you read the Dirk Gently books? If anything they're better than the Hitchhiker series.