1 December 09 | Chad W. Post

Over at the BOA Editions blog there’s a guest post from Idra Novey—poet and translator of The Clean Shirt of It by Paulo Henriques Britto—about “bad girls” and translation:

Whenever this happens, I think of an interview I read a few years ago in the New York Times Magazine with the writer Mario Vargos Llosa about his novel The Bad Girl. In the interview, Vargos Llosa explains that he made his main character a translator to explain the man’s lack of personality and why he’d need to go groveling after the Bad Girl. A translator, according to Vargos Llosa, is an inhibited “intermediary” whose life is “curtailed” and “mediocre.”

My question after reading this was how many translators does Vargas Llosa actually know?

In the poetry world, I’ve found translators usually are the bad girls—the poets most likely to put themselves in dodgy situations in other languages and enjoy it. To disappear for years into other cultures and live in situations that would make their parents cringe but that also leaves them aware of the world in a way that makes them live, think, and take risks they never would have otherwise.

Exactly. So who wants to join ALTA now?


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