Thursday, July 22, 2004

Translations

Quote of the Day:
"Everything has already begun before, the first line of the first page of every novel refers to something that has already happened outside the book. Or else the real story is the one that begins ten or a hundred pages further on and everything that preceds it is only a prologue. The lives of individuals of the human race form a constant plot..." Italo Calvino, from "If on a winter's night a traveler."

Oh the pressure of blogging! Doesn't this run counter to all the diaries I have tried to hide and keep out of sight? Of course, knowing you there might be looking in makes me just that much more likely to alter what I write. How does that make you feel, knowing I am tailoring my words, holding back, snipping off thoughts?

I interviewed an interesting guy for Word by Word yesterday, named Michael Heim. He translates for a living, and teaches translations at UCLA. He began by translating letters of Chekov's and has done an amazing stretch thereafter, including some of the ever-elusive, ever-critical Kundera. I find translation so fascinating, and so terrifying. I liked what he had to say though, about how a translation is always in some respects an interpretation, and that rather than every single word counting, the feeling of the work has to come through, the translation must deliver an essence. I know there are those who think that translations are a version of plagiarism or worse, but I agreed with Michael. If not for our translators we would never get to read Kundera or Chekov or Saramago or any of the amazing writers who have changed my life! It makes me think of something Calvino also wrote in his book "6 Memos for the next Millenium" (yes, double the Calvino today!): "Some literary inentions are impressed on our memories by their verbal implications rather than by their actual words." I think this applies to translations too.

Now, Calvino is a man who I'm quite sure would have agreed that translations are both a gift and a burden. His book, "If on a winters night a traveler" is an exploration in part of how literature is translated.

And that is your first assignment, should you decide to take it. It's an amazing book if you're a reader and a writer both. And if you aren't both, what's the point of living? Oh sorry...there are other vocations, passions and callings...how easily I forget.

JPR

1 Comments:

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2015/09/13

 

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