There is an expression in Russian, “Kакой ужас!” You can say it about anything dreadful that’s happened. It literally means, “What horror!” For years I’ve been struggling to translate it in the dialogue for my characters. I’d say, “What horror!” and “It’s horrible!” and “That’s horrendous!” and any number of these.
Then yesterday I started reading Gaston Leroux’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and I come across “How awful!” And I think, for fuck’s sake, I’ve been writing and reading full-time for 3 years and only now do I find the perfect translation for this phrase?? And yes, it’s perfect. So thank you, Gaston Leroux, wherever you are (roaming Opera?) and thank you to the translator.
"The Opera ghost! How awful!"