Over at Entre Los Espacios, Rose Mary Salum is continuing her line-up of bad-ass interviews. Last month she talked with a slew of editors at translation literary journals (such as Absinthe and Calque), and today she has a nice interview with Annie Janusch from Two Lines.
And tying in to the previous post about editing translations:
What would seem to be the essential editorial challenge when working with translations?
Since translation editors aren’t in a position to, say, recommend revising a particular passage so that it moves the narrative along differently, the editorial focus is on honing and crafting the language, maintaining consistency in voice, style, or intangibles like “spirit.” When I read a draft of a translation of a story, I read it as closely as I would a poem, pausing over every word and weighing every choice. This can lead to endless questioning.
This started a while ago, but Rose Mary Salum of Entre los espacios has been interviewing a number of translation journals/magazines about issues of readership, editing, etc., with pretty interesting results.
Each question is a separate post, so here are links to the four already online, along with a quote from one of the responses. (Just for the record, editors from CALQUE, Absinthe, Words Without Borders, Tameme, One Edit, No Man’s Land, and CipherJournal are being interviewed.)
Question #1 is about the perceived lack of interest in international literature among English readers.
Brandon Holmquest from CALQUE: I’m not sure if I agree with the idea that readers are disinclined to read things from other countries. There are a hell of a lot of people in this country who are not readers, and a great many who read things like genre fiction. It does the publisher of serious literature, translated or not, no good to consider these people as readers. A record label that puts out hip-hop records cares about hip-hop fans, people who hate music and rock fans can take of themselves.
Question #2: What would seem to be the essential editorial challenge when working with translations?
Tim Adkins from One Edit: Make it interesting.
Question #3: Is expression in one language completely transmittable into another language?
Dwayne Hayes from Absinthe: I’m not sure the thoughts in our own heads are completely transmittable in our own language! That said, translation stands on its own as a literary work and is definitely capable of transmitting the heart of the text.
Question #4: Should the question be more about how much of a culture we try to transmit and how much we intervene, when working with our journals?
Samantha Schnee from Words Without Borders: The mission statement of WWB sums this up nicely: Words Without Borders opens doors to international exchange through translation, publication, and promotion of the world’s best writing. WWB publishes selected prose and poetry on the web and in print anthologies (the next one to focus on the Islamic world), stages special events that connect foreign writers to the general public and media, develops materials for high school teachers to use foreign literature in classrooms, and continues to build an unparalleled online resource center for contemporary global writing.
Not sure if there are more questions to come, but what’s available so far provides an interesting look into these diverse translation journals—all of which are worth checking out in their own right.
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .