May 18, 2022

In an age of sloppy mass production, here’s a craftsman at work – Laura Waddell

If reading a book about translating another book sounds like your idea of ​​a good time – and it is mine – you’ll be intrigued by Catching Fire :A

Translation journal, published simultaneously with Never Did the Fire. Daniel Hahn demystifies how literary translation works with this process diary. I’m not convinced there still isn’t a bit of magic in the mix, but Hahn (known in the book world as a translation advocate) is on a lighthearted, word-loving mission to pull back the curtain , revealing the dilemmas faced by translators.

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Translator Daniel Hahn is “drawing back the curtain” on his work in a new book published by Edinburgh-based Charco Publishing, writes Laura Waddell. Photo: CC/Andrew Lih.

Not only must the essential meaning of a word be conveyed, but also all the context and association intended by the author in its original usage, while preserving something of the author’s voice and style, tricky when, to give a simple example, translating a language with gendered nouns into one without. It’s fun to join Hahn through a series of these dilemmas, with points from fellow translators, in this nerdy insider’s guide to the niche but industrious world of translation and book publishing. In an age of botched mass production, here is a craftsman at work, attentive to every word. Finally, the wisdom of Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein, in the new book In the Margins, a lightweight collection of essays originally written as lectures for the University of Bologna. Reflecting on how writers are indebted to the literature that preceded them, she says of her process: “First, the act of writing is a pure temptation of fate: second, what the writing captures does not pass not through the sieve of a singular I, solidly anchored in everyday life, but it is twenty people […]when I write, even I don’t know who I am.

You may have noticed that book acknowledgments sometimes say “it takes a village” to make a book – a trope that holds a lot of truth.

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