17 jun. 2007

Unless it is a canonical novel from before the 20th century, (or a super-canonical novel like Proust's), there will be only one translation into English of a given novel. Maybe two. Contrast that with the number of translations of Lorca's Romancero gitano or Poeta en Nueva York. My point is that with poetry the existence of multiple competing translations is a given, for almost any poet who is part of the poetry-in-translation canon. Baudelaire, Li Po, Basho, Neruda, etc...

Translation is seen as integral part of any poet's basic training. Who has not translated? The same couldn't really be said for novelists, ttbomk. Novelists don't have time to translate other people's novels.

The translation of prose is considered more or less transparent. That is, the book review might mention the translator and quality of version, but might not mention it. It is not the focus of the review. On the other hand, when someone brings out a new Duino Elegies, the point has to be how satsifactory (or not) the translation is.

1 comentario:

B.J. Epstein dijo...

I agree that it is more common (though still not common enough!) for poets to try translation than it is for fiction writers. Translation is another form of creative writing, and reading works in another language and attempting to translate them is a useful way of improving one's own writing skills as well as a way of getting new insight into literature and writing. That is why I have long thought that translation should be a part of MFA programs in creative writing. The problem there, however, is that in the countries where MFA programs are most prevalant (first and foremost the US, followed by the UK), it is not a given that students will have studied other languages to the degree necessary for translation. And that therefore means that the educational systems in these countries would have to change rather significantly in order to embrace foreign languages (and that would be a good thing for many reasons, not just in terms of literary translation).

Best wishes,
B.J. Epstein