Alexander Sharov translates Dmitriy Galkovskiy

Yuletide Fable #1

A certain classical rodent distinguished by compulsive nosiness was once snooping around in the cellar, collapsed into the amphora with wine and quickly drowned. On the ensuing day the amphora was dispatched to the seaport where it was loaded onto a vessel. Thunderbolts fulminated into the vessel during a tempest, conflagration erupted and the argosy sank midway between Jaffa and Piraeus. In 3694 the amphora with mummified vitrified mass was salvaged from the seabed and the fossilized rat was hewn from it. The layout of the specimen’s volatile memory was successfully reproduced by applying the methodology of algebraic scanning, and through the instrumentality of the 16-dimensional super-computer, emulating lower mammals’ sensory perception, the relevant video footage was displayed. It transpired that the rat which so (in)felicitously floundered into the amphora, six hours earlier had witnessed the interrogation of Christ by Pontius Pilate.

Clandestine information on that matter was serendipitously unearthed by the computerized archeological mission in 5118. Regretfully, the then retrieved informational chip of the notorious NN-4 grid was almost utterly vandalized, and, in the ultimate reckoning, fragments from the index of contents, exiguous desultory dialogues and two video snapshots (from amongst the total of two millions) were displayable. A sessile man robed in the vestments of the Roman Martial Governor was visible on the former, the least mutilated snapshot. The perspective is grossly misaligned – ventral and lateral views. A hulking Romanesque-sandaled foot is visible, a disproportionately dwarfish head with a comparatively hypertrophied mandible, a wrist with a finger-ring is on the lap. Opposite stands Christ – an approximately quadragenarian, swarthy-complexioned Semite, luxuriously gowned, aquiline hooked nose, wispy beard, bloated cheeks. The focus of the snapshot (a splash of color) is the finger-ring, an ostentatiously flamboyant one, supposedly, the artifact riveting the gnawer’s attention this particular second. The latter snapshot is severely blurred. Pilate is scarcely discernible thereon. Christ is expostulating on something, gesticulating with his hand directly at the rat. A hexapod (hypothetically, Blatta orientalis) is zigzagging across the foreground. The snapshot is semantically decentralized. Evidently, the instant of refocusing attention from the insect to the background is recorded. Ostensibly, the rat lusted to ingurgitate the Blattoptera but was diverted by an exclamation.

Extant gleanings of the dialogue were exportable solely into the plain textual file format. Consequently, unambiguous authentication of address proved to be unidentifiable. The colloquy was being pursued in the Latin bureaucratese of the 1st century AD, and corresponding locutions were, with a certain dosage of conventionality, rendered into icon-based Vision English. Altogether, nineteen isolated snippets were decrypted:

1. Now then, we shall be fixing the pecuniary issue.
2. Let us conventionalize things thusly.
3. It is opined that thy folks ought to be disposed of.
4. Where is thy support team?
5. Thou wilt become shorter by the head.
6. Where is the baksheesh?
7. Now, let us tackle HR-related matters.
8. We shall clap hands (*).
9. To vilipend and denigrate.
10. To tweak the issue.
11. Troubleshooting and incentivizing the process.
12. To the Grassroots Committee? The sun is likelier to collapse down on the earth!
13. Through the skewed lens.
14. We shall scrutinize this proposal as well in due course.
15. From the proper perspective, delight of my eyes.
16. Secretarial Rat-Snout.
17. Chine the edacious urban rat.
18. Asphyxiate the sycophant with a noose wetted in asinine urine.

The lattermost nineteenth fragment was identified as authentically attributable to Christ:

19. I beseech you never to terrorize me any more. Altogether, I am clueless as to what Your Sublime Lordship is speaking about. I shall resurrect and persist everlastingly. My father, Lord, my God hath enjoined thus!

*) Hereunder is obfuscated whether figuratively or in the truest sense of the word.


Translator’s Note:

Dmitriy Galkovskiy is reputedly the most thought-provoking author in modern-day Russia. However, disconcertingly, his oeuvre has not yet been rendered into English. Galkovskiy is a continuer of the Rozanovian line of Russian philosophy and belles-lettres. Vasiliy Rozanov was an idiosyncratic philosopher of the late nineteenth – early twentieth century whose creativity resists any categorization. This translation is one of Galkovskiy’s short stories.


Dmitriy Galkovskiy is a Russian philosopher and man of letters. He matriculated from Moscow State University with a degree in Classical Philosophy. Galkovskiy was awarded the Anti-Booker Literary Prize in 1997 and Live Journal Prize in 2006.

Alexander Sharov matriculated from Dnieper National University (Ukraine) with degrees in English and Psychology. He translates contemporary fiction from Russian and Ukrainian into English.