Blue Puya

In today’s quote from “The Key of Yellow Metal” by Max Frei, Filipp and Karl are talking about Marianne North, a mid-nineteenth century botanical artist who, among other accomplishments, was the first British botanist to travel to the Andes and paint the blue puya.

The featured image is a picture of blue puya at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. You can see the painting Karl and Filipp are talking about, “Inflorescence of the Blue Puya and Moths, Chili” by Marianne North here.

– You didn’t get it at all, – smiled Karl. – You are talking about futility, because you think the outcome was the painting, which, undoubtedly, never became a major artistic or scientific achievement of the century. But the painting was not the outcome, merely a motive to begin the undertaking. A simple, specific goal easy to hook on, to get up and get going.

– Fine. What was the result then?

– The experience, of course. Marianne, having returned home from South America, was different from the lady who once embarked upon the journey. The new Marianne knew what it was like to be a person who did not care about being rocked on a boat, shaken on a mule; did not care about heavy cargo, steep inclines, or thin air. One can say, she herself was the result.

– Max Frei, “The Key of Yellow Metal”

That was a translation by yours truly. Below is the original excerpt. My readers are welcome to offer words to improve the translation.

– Ты ничего не понял, – улыбнулся Карл. – Говоришь о тщетности, потому что считаешь результатом картину, которая безусловно, не стала главным художественным или научным событием столетия. Но картина – вовсе не результат, а просто повод начать действовать. Простая, конкретная цель, за которую легко зацепиться, чтобы встать и пойти.

– Хорошо. Что в таком случае результат?

– Опыт, конечно. Марианн, вернувшись домой из Южной Америки, отличалась от леди, которая когда-то отправилась в путь. Новая Марианн знала, каково быть человеком, которому нипочём корабельная качка, тряска на муле, тяжёлый груз, крутые подъёмы, и разреженный воздух. Можно сказать, она сама и есть результат.

– Макс Фрай, “Ключ из жёлтого металла”

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