Prieto and Allen Discuss Rex

July 17, 2009

Over at the Center for the Art of Translation’s web site, they’ve posted several audio clips of discussions with Cuban writer (and former literary translator from Russian) José Manuel Prieto and translation dynamo Esther Allen, whose English translation of Prieto’s Rex was published earlier this year. In addition to some specific conversation about Rex and readings from the original and translation, the clips also include more general discussion of world literature and the role of translation in that literature. Fascinating material. I particularly loved Allen’s tangential anecdote about a panel of five translators of Don Quixote into five different languages.

It’s just so interesting because every translator’s experience is completely different because the experience is affected by the translator they’re translating into, not the language they’re translating out of. And Susanne Lange [translator from German] gave a presentation about Don Quixote that was so extraordinary that at the end of it, the correspondent from El País went up to her and said, “I’m going to learn German so I can read your translation of Don Quixote.”

(Via Three Percent.)

I was curious about the German translation so I went poking around and found an interesting article (in Spanish) on Deutsche Welle. Lange has apparently been much lauded for her Quixote, and was awarded the Johann-Heinrich-Voss Prize by the German Academy of Language and Poetry in May. She says of the novel,

Above all it has taught me a lot not just about Don Quixote and his era — a universal myth, a book that has almost everything in it and remains very modern to this day — but also about my own language, since in order to translate the Quixote I’ve had to look at all the sources of the German language, look from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries for the words that would work in my translation.

Take a look, if you read Spanish. I can’t in good conscience recommend Google Translate — union issues!



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