Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: Tintin in the Land of Foreign Affairs

by Edward Gauvin, February 21, 2014

In 2006, Tom McCarthy claimed that the pages of Tintin contained the secret of literature; in 2010, Abel Lanzac and Christophe Blain declared that Tintin held the secret of making a good political speech. Invoking as it did that evergreen classic of Francophone comics, or bande dessinée, the scene…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

True Stories from Faraway Places: Paweł Smoleński and Polish Literary Reportage

by Sean Bye, January 30, 2014

Paweł Smoleński’s “Painting the Occupation” is a great example of what I love about Polish literary reportage. Through the story of Suleiman Shakir, a famous Kurdish painter who was persecuted under Saddam Hussein, Smoleński addresses themes of freedom of expression,…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

Oulipian Champagne: Mucking with Caradec’s Deft Trickery

by Chris Clarke, January 24, 2014

I remember watching Yvonne Rainer’s Journeys from Berlin/1971 in film class, and I recall the feeling of sitting in that dark Simon Fraser annex classroom searching for patterns that eluded me. Hmm, in the past three shots, the traffic has been moving to the left. Maybe THAT means something. Never…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: Content with Constraint

by Tom La Farge, December 10, 2013

The question most on a translator’s mind, when working on an Oulipian text, is, do you translate the constraint or the content? Can you do both: follow both the potentiality unleashed by the constraint and the text actually on the page? Can you offer the reader both an absorptive reading of a text-in-itself…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

Self-translation / Self-destruction

by Ian Monk, December 5, 2013

Soon after being co-opted into the Oulipo in 1998, I started to write in French, while also continuing to write in English, and working as an all-around freelance translator (poetry, fiction, IT, marketing, ad campaigns, you name it). I’d only just taken this decisive step in my literary development,…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: On Flowers and Maps

by Ross Ufberg, October 17, 2013

Mark Twain once joked that God created war so Americans could learn geography. Luckily for us, humanity countered with a solution of its own: translation. I believe most Americans, upon hearing the word “Moldova,” tend to think of a particularly nasty type of fungus that grows in the interspaces…...read more »

Category: Dispatches

The Decline and Fall of a Translator’s Brain

by Jocelyne Allen, July 19, 2012

Just when you think you’ve figured out what is going on in the Toh Enjoe story “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire,” you trip on another oblique reference to some bit of the outside world. It’s a story that bears up to—and in fact, requires—multiple…...read more »

Category: Dispatches

On “Fish Variations”

by Angus Turvill, July 2, 2012

Fish Variations has a very particular phonetic structure that throws up special challenges for the translator. Here are a few comments on these challenges and how I addressed them. Both original poem and translation have seven verses. The first four verses and the final verse are linked by vowel patterns,…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: Titling “Tana”

by Elizabeth Harris, April 9, 2012

I’m very grateful to the editors of Words Without Borders for letting me discuss my translation of Giulio Mozzi’s “Tana.” This gives me the chance to discuss my failure. Several years back, when I first met with Mozzi in Padua about his collection Questo è il giardino (This…...read more »

Category: Dispatches

From the Translator: Working with the Author

by Samantha Schnee, March 30, 2012

Editor's note: Translator Samantha Schnee worked closely with author Carmen Boullosa throughout the translation of the latter's “Sleepless Homeland.” The following exchange, with its multiple rounds of drafts, queries, and responses, provides an instructive glimpse of the process.…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: On Translating Fabrizio Mejía Madrid

by Rosalind Harvey, March 15, 2012

It’s funny the paths one is led down by what one gets to translate. After having translated Juan Pablo Villalobos’s stunning debut, Down the Rabbit Hole, last year, I now seem, somewhat bewilderingly to me at least, to be considered by some as practically an expert on Mexico and Mexican literature—something…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: The Eternonaut

by Erica Mena, January 12, 2012

I discovered El Eternauta while translating a poem. Until recently I considered myself to be primarily a translator of poetry. I’d made a few forays into prose, but poetry is always where I’ve situated myself as a writer, and following the conventional wisdom that one must be a poet in order…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: Yu Jian and the German Enlightenment

by Steve Bradbury, October 7, 2011

Living on “Ilha Formosa” and being one of those translators who likes to get to know his authors before he represents them overseas, I don’t often translate poetry from mainland China, but I couldn’t resist translating Yu Jian's “Beethoven Chronology” and “Immanuel…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

On William Carlos Williams’s Translation of Ernesto Mejía Sánchez’s “Vigils”

by Jonathan Cohen, July 14, 2011

What influence can Spanish have on us who speak a derivative of English in North America? To shake us free for a reconsideration of the poetic line. . . . It looks as though our salvation may come not from within ourselves but from the outside. —William Carlos Williams in his talk on poetic form…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: David Ball and Nicole Ball on Abdourahman A. Waberi’s “Passage of Tears”

by David and Nicole Ball, January 6, 2011

The French-Djiboutian writer Abdourahman A. Waberi was one of the writers to whom J.M.G. Le Clézio dedicated his Nobel Prize in his acceptance speech. Waberi has won many literary prizes and honors; his work has been translated into German, Italian, and Portuguese. He has received lavish praise…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: Paul Curtis Daw on Translating Vincent Mondiot

by Paul Curtis Daw, December 15, 2010

While leisurely making my way through a collection of winning entries from the 2006 French young writer’s competition, I was brought up short by “Ils viennent toujours en l’automne.” Although there were many fine stories in the collection, including works both from France and…...read more »

Category: From the Translator

From the Translator: Lydia Beyoud on Fouad Laroui’s “My Father’s Antenna”

by Lydia Beyoud, November 23, 2010

Rich with comic and descriptive juxtapositions of traditional Moroccan culture with the exotic and intriguing technology and terminology of the Western world, My Father’s Antenna makes for a comic and bittersweet story of the changes that propel an individual, a family, and a village in Morocco…...read more »

Category: Dispatches

From the Translator: Kim M. Hastings on Translating “Borges’s Secretary”

by Kim M. Hastings, October 29, 2010

In this dispatch, Portuguese translator Kim M. Hastings weighs in on her translation of Lúcia Bettencourt's story “Borges's Secretary” from the October 2010 issue of the magazine. You can read the original story here. Not long after I translated “Borges’s Secretary,”…...read more »