Gary is another great example of the hyperactively funny male translator. He’s incredibly fun, warm, and without going into any ALTA politics, one of the important people on ALTA’s board and committees who is liked by all sides. In addition to his ALTA work, and serving as review editor for Translation Review, Gary teaches at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus (in contrast to the most excellently named C. W. Post campus).
Anyway, this ALTA conference was the first time I met Gary in person, although I’ve talked with him by phone and e-mail over the past year or so while serving on ALTA’s publications committee. He really does have boundless enthusiasm, and I’m sure will be a huge player in ALTA’s development—especially in terms of its publications, website, and involvement with younger translators.
On to the questions:
Favorite Word in Any Language: carpetovetonico, which refers to a fustian madrileno
I so love the specificity of this word. Not just a pompous Spaniard, but a fustian Madrileno. Now I just need to find a good moment in which to use this . . . Hopefully without starting a bar fight . . .
Best Thing You’ve Translated to Date: La vida es sueno (Life Is a Dream) by Pedro Calderon de la Barca
Calderon (1600-1681) is considered by many to be one of Spain’s greatest playwrights, and, according to Wikipedia (the internet’s greatest quick hit informational resource), he “initiated the second cycle of Spanish Golden Age theater.” Here’s a description of Life Is a Dream (also from Wikipedia—which I feel the need to apologize for, but seriously, this description kicks ass all over the one you can find on the Penguin Classics website):
In the play, the king of Poland has had his son Segismundo imprisoned all of his life because it has been prophesied that the son will bring disaster to the country. The king tells his subjects that his son died after childbirth. After his son has grown to be a man, the king reveals to his court that his son lives, and allows the court to vote in favor of allowing the son to become heir. However, the son turns out to be violent, killing a man and attempting rape. For this he is drugged and returned to his prison, and told upon waking that the previous day’s events were merely a dream. Still, his jailer scolds him for his un-princely behaviour, which prompts remorse in Segismundo. Rebels who are working against the king, who have found out about the treatment of Segismundo, break him out of prison. The rebels defeat the king’s army; however, Segismundo doubts again if he is in reality or a dream, finally deciding that even in a dream we have to behave well because “God is God” and forgives the king . The play ends in a wedding.
(Totally side note, but I think it would be great to do some special panel/podcast/interview with drama translators to talk about the special issues involved in translating plays . . .)
Book that Needs to Be Published in English Translation: Retranslation of Jose Hernandez’s Martin Fierro
As one of the most important Argentine works of all time, I approve this recommendation. In fact, it’s almost shocking that there aren’t new translations of this every few years . . . Maybe it’s time for a Penguin Classics edition?
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .