Chaired by Daniel Hahn
This event also featured Nadeem Asham and Jon Banville
Adam started the event introducing the idea behind the project. The book features 12 stories that have been translated into 18different languages multiple times by 61 authors. Hypothesis behind it was thinking about style and translation as style/form does not always translate well. You are not going to read War and Peace just cause you don’t speak Russian. Only the first novelist in the project gets to see the original text, all translations where done by authors and translators where not invited to take part within the project.
John then talked about his piece that he translated and how he loved the notion of translating a piece as it was a philosophical challenge. He brought up the point of how is War and Peace that is written in English still War and Peace? He talked about his own work being translated and compared it to your novel being made into a film, you just have to hand it over and ultimately hope for the best. All you are going to end up with is a pale version of the original text as ultimately the novel is a very robust form it survives all things that are thrown at it.
Nadeem was in a different position, English is not his original language and he never learned the English language until he moved to the UK when he was 14. He brought up an excellent point that was shown through a poem in which there was two different translations into English, one word does not mean the same thing to everyone, each person will interpret it in their own way.
After hearing Jennie talk about War and Peace and say how she believes translations should be as close to the original text as possible it was refreshing to hear John say how a translator can not be true to the original text due to the fact that the translator has to remake the novel into another language. He talked about google translator and how he finds it comical and how ultimately google translator is a circus performance and will not be taking the job from translators anytime soon. As a translation has to capture the music of the prose it is translation and this is something a computer programme can not achieve as the rhythm of the piece can not be translated.
To me, Nadeem brought up a very interesting point of how some words when translated don’t make any sense to the reader but if they knew the context of how they were written in the original language they would make sense to the reader.
John then posed a question to the chair who himself is a well known translator , does Daniel as translator feel he has a style that he brings across in his transaltions?
His answer, was originally very short, I hope not. As a translator he ultimately wants to make the reader feel like they are reading the original text as much as he can.
Nadeem then asked does Daniel ever change things when translating pieces?
Everything is changed but this is not done deliberately, it is done because it has to be done. However translators do have choices when it comes to incorporating symbols and commas. Like to work on the assumption that what I am working on is something great and does not need to be changed.
An audience member asked whether Nadeem would consider translating their own work into another language at any point?
Nadeem said he himself would not translate his own work, when writing I have to be surrounded by the language and at the minute the language I am surrounded by is English.
With that final thought the event was drawn to a close. I found this event to be extremely interesting in hearing the different contrast between this session and the session I had attended earlier on that day. Many people have different views when it comes to translating book and whether they should stay true to the original or adjust the book to suit the language they are translating into. A very though provoking hour at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.