translator's visibility

... first Viennale film in 2010, and a 100 % score. Fantastic. Yesterday I saw the documentary "The woman with the five elephants" about Ucrainian-born translator Swetlana Geier, who tirelessly and in the most impressive manner has been translating Dostoevskij for just over two decades - the "five elephants" being his five masterpieces, one of which - Crime and punishment - received a new title thanks to Mrs Geier and Ammann publishers (a publishing house that recently had to close its doors).

Mrs Geier is obviously one very special woman, and translator, and I am thrilled and looking forward to reading her rendering of Dostoevskij. Needless to say, the discourse that surrounds translating, including linguistic relativism, the impossibility (and yet need) to make a target-language text communicate with the "original", the ceaselessly threatening invisibility of translators whenever they do their job "too well" - are a wide field and many thoughts can be and have been expressed on the topic. I know what I'm talking about, believe you me...

It was, therefore, absolutely stunning to hear this woman talk about her work, her life, her past, to see her (aged 85) collaborate with two other rather old persons (aged 85 and 86) to complete her work, to hear her go on about how ironing brings the single threads of a tissue back into order or about the inexistence of a real core/centre in an onion (!) and how this made her think about the way you have to approach a text or the way it unfolds as you approach it.

Noone, I believe, not even the author, knows a text as well as the translator does. That's something I realise myself whenever I tackle a translation of any kind, it brings you so close to the text, it catapults you into it and forces you to deal with imperfections or unclear passages you all too easily skip when "simply" reading it.

And how beautiful it was to hear her recite a poem by Andrej Sinjavskij - "What's a wood". How simple, how clever, how beautiful...

Что такое лес?
Лес – это море, где, кто, куда…
Что такое лес?
Лес – это город, откуда, который, в котором…
Что такое лес?
Лес – это небо, благодаря чему, оттого что, за неимением, будто…
Что такое лес?
Лес – это лес

Aucun commentaire:

Archives du blog