This event was with Dany Laferriere (Author), Adriana Hunter (translator) and Ros Schwartz (translator).
Chaired by Daniel Hahn
These events were first introduced into the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year and it was an opportunity for the translator to take centre stage instead of the author of the book. Both translators, translated the same piece of text from Dany and neither of them saw the others’ version until the start of the event.
As Dany stated he is here as a puppet for the translators.
Daniel started the event by pointing out that the two different translations only have one sentence in common throughout the entire text.
Ros started the “duel” by pointing out that as a translator it is very tempting to stay as close to the original text as possible when translating. You have to start the process by feeling your way into the text. It is almost like you are in a muddy field with very heavy boots and struggling to walk. When you are translating a piece as short as this you are only plying with it as it is hard to find the voice within the text, as this would be the point when you are feeling your way into the text.
In both translations they use a different work to identify the mum within the story with Ros going for mother and Adriana going for a combination of mother and mum at different intervals throughout. Ros stated that when translating she felt the work mum sounded so English and she didn’t think it would suit the voice of the character. Adriana disagreed and felt the work mother could be come heavy and very worded with the text. The word mum felt more youthful and suited the voice of the character. It felt very uncomfortable referring to her as mother, within the piece of work.
Dany added that by using mother or mum each translation is producing a different piece of music with the body of the work.
Ros pointed out to the audience that there is never one official translation of a book, there is just one person’s version. This can be done multiple times to produce different versions.
Dany pointed out that he has rewrote six of his novels after they have been translated and added 200 pages to one of them. Thus creating more work for the translator, who retranslated the text to included the extra pages.
Adriana says the process is all to do with finding the voice that has been created. If an author is inconsistent within their work, then you need to ask yourself why have they done this? It could be to do with the rhythm of the sentence or repetition. Most of the time these things are done for a reason and can be missed in the translation of the text into English.
Final question was from an audience member, Do you prefer to translate a living or a dead author?
Ros was first to respond and stated she preferred to translate a living author’s text. When translating, the translators loyalty is to the author not the reader. However the author is always the last resort if you don’t understand something, it is important to try and find out as much as you can yourself.
Adriana’s answer was the same, she to preferred to translate living authors’. They are a wonderful resource of information and you learn something new through doing each new translation. This is a continuous process that goes on with each translation, a translator does.
With that final thought, a wonderful hour was brought to a end. These events could be much longer as we only got halfway through discussing the text, that had been translated.