Alex-stop-spleening-me

So I’m reading this fascinating novel, “Everything is Illuminated” by Jonathan Safran Foer, and part of it is written from the perspective of a Ukranian translator named Alex who has extremely, um, creative English, and he keeps using the term “spleen” as a verb to mean something along the lines of annoy/irritate/upset/distress, but I can’t tell what word he’s confusing it with (he says “rigid” all the time to mean “hard” as in “difficult”, so he’ll say, like, it was very rigid to discover your hotel’s proximity” to mean “It was hard to find your hotel” – see what I mean about the creative?) and I can’t stop trying to figure out what he means by “spleen” and his mother sort of unaffectionately nicknamed him Alex-stop-spleening-me and whenever she speaks to him in the dialogue that’s what she calls him, or rather that’s how he translates whatever she actually calls him in Ukranian, so anyway I can’t stop going around and muttering Alex-stop-spleening-me to myself and it’s cracking me and my roommate up but seriously, what does the “spleen” mean? Seriously!

P.S. So I just realized it’s “Alexi-stop-spleening-me” and not?? “Alex…” but that’s not what I mutter under my breath, I mutter Alex.?? Stop spleening me.?? ACK!?? I even emailed my entire book club just now asking them if they knew WTF it meant.?? To spleen or not to spleen??? That is the question.?? Actually, the question is “WTF does ’spleen’ mean?”?? Ack!

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1 Comment

  1. It means exactly that, to irritate, he’s not confusing the two like with rigid and hard… in Russian, spleen can be translated to “irritation” or “anger”, tho it’s one of those awkward translations that people don’t use (which is really what half of what he says is anyway). “Bother” works pretty well for a substitute

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