Translation:Puss in Boots/Act 3/Scene 3

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Translation:Puss in Boots by Ludwig Tieck, translated from German by wikisource and  Wikisource
Act 3, Scene 3

ACT THREE

__________


Scene Three


A hall in the palace.


_____


The King on his throne with The Princess; Leander at a lectern; opposite him, Hanswurst at another lectern; in the centre of the hall a hat, covered in gold and decorated with colorful plumes, is atop a tall pole; the entire court has been convened.


King

No greater service has any man rendered to the Fatherland than the gracious Count of Carabas. So often has his hunter presented me with dainty and delicious gifts, sometimes even twice a day, that our historiographer has already filled a thick volume with his accomplishments. My gratitude to him is boundless; my fondest desire is to find an opportunity of one day discharging some of the great debt I owe him.

Princess

My dear father, would your most gracious majesty not permit the learned debate to begin? My heart yearns for mental exercise.

King

Yes, it may begin now. Court scholar Court jester you both know that whichever of you triumphs in this debate will be awarded that precious hat; for this very reason I have had it set up there, so that you may have it always before your eyes and never lack for quick wit.

Leander and Hanswurst bow.


Leander

My thesis is that a recently published play by the name of Puss in Boots is a good play.

Hanswurst

That is precisely what I deny.

Leander

Prove that it's bad.

Hanswurst

You prove that it's good.

Leutner

Come again? Why, that's the very play they're staging here, if I'm not mistaken.

Müller

Correct! The very same.

Leander

The play, although not entirely sublime, is still worthy of praise in several respects.

Hanswurst

In no respect.

Leander

I maintain that it displays wit.

Hanswurst

I maintain that it doesn't.

Leander

You are a jester: how could you be a judge of wit?

Hanswurst

And you are a scholar: what would you know about wit?

Leander

Some of the characters are well-executed.

Hanswurst

Not a single one.

Leander

Well then, even if I concede everything else, at least the audience is well portrayed.

Hanswurst

An audience never has any character.

Leander

His insolence almost astonishes me.

Hanswurst

to the pit

Isn't he a foolish fellow? I and the honorable public are hand and glove with one another, as it were; as far as good taste is concerned we are in complete agreement; and yet he wishes to maintain, in opposition to my opinion, that the audience in Puss in Boots is well drawn.

Fischer

The audience? But there's no audience in the play.

Hanswurst

Even better! So, then, there is no audience in it at all?

Müller

God forbid! We would surely have noticed if there was.

Hanswurst

Of course you would. Now do you see, my learned friend? What these gentlemen down there are saying must surely be true.

Leander

I'm getting confused but I still won't yield the victory to you.

Enter Hinze


Hanswurst

Mr Hunter, a word!

Hinze approaches; Hanswurst whispers to him.


Hinze

If that's all you want.

He takes off his boots and climbs up the pole, takes the hat, jumps down, and puts his boots on again.


Hanswurst

waving the hat

Victory is mine!

King

Good God! How skilful the hunter is!

Leander

My only regret is that I have been vanquished by a fool, and learning must strike sail before foolishness.

King

Be quiet. You wanted the hat, he wanted the hat: what's the difference? But what have you brought us now, huntsman?

Hinze

The Count of Carabas commends himself most humbly to your majesty and takes the liberty of sending you these two partridges.

King

Too much! too much! I am sinking under the burden of gratitude! The time is long past when I should have discharged my duty and paid him a visit; for too long I have put it off, but no longer. Have the royal carriage prepared at once, the eight-horse one, I want to go for a drive with my daughter! You, huntsman, shall show us the way to the count's castle.

Exit the King with his retinue.


Hinze, Hanswurst


Hinze

What was your debate about, anyway?

Hanswurst

I maintained that a certain play called Puss in Boots, which, incidentally, I am not acquainted with at all, is a wretched piece.

Hinze

Oh Yeah?

Hanswurst

Farewell, Mr Hunter, and many thanks.

He puts on the hat and leaves.


Hinze

alone

I'm so depressed. I have helped the fool to claim the victory by disparaging a play in which I myself am playing the leading rôle. O Fate! O cruel Fate! What entanglements you so often weave for us mortals! But be that as it may, if I only succeed in putting my beloved Gottlieb on the throne, I will gladly forget all my other troubles: I will forget the offence to myself and my very existence when I disarmed the better argument and, to my own injury, placed weapons in the hands of folly; I will forget that my whiskers were plucked and my body almost cut up into slices; yes, I will devote my life to my friend, and leave to the admiration of posterity the finest example of selfless friendship. So the king wishes to visit the count? Well, that's another tricky situation which I must straighten out. In his castle, which does not yet exist? Now the great day has arrived, the crucial day on which I especially need these boots. Do not desert me today, do not tear on me today of all days; now is the time to show what durable leather you are made of, and what strong soles you have! Up then, Feet and Boots! To work, for all must be decided today.

Exit.


Schlosser

What's that you're trying to say?

Bötticher

G Gr Great!!

Fischer

Can someone please tell me how it is that that the play itself can recur as a play within the play?

Schlosser

I can't think of anything else to say by which I might vent the anger that this piece has provoked. Behold poor Bötticher: a tongue-tied monument of my own exasperation.