"Translationista" by Susan Bernofsky

In order to keep tabs with what other literary translators are doing, today I'm creating a new section: RecBLOG

(Yeah, it stands for "recommended blog" because I'm not that creative...)


The first literary translation blog I wanted to talk about is Susan Bernofsky's "Translationista." Susan is an award-winning translator, author, and associate professor with Columbia University, in addition to the current Translation Committee with PEN American Center. She translates German into English and most recently received the Calwer Hermann Hesse Translation Prize for Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha.

The post that grabbed my attention when I first came across her blog was "Can an Author Relinquish Control?" Here's an excerpt:

Being translated is frightening. Imagine this: You spend months if not years writing a literary work, agonizing over each word choice, perfecting turns of phrase that convey your own particular vision and sensibility. Then you hand over the finished product to a stranger in another country who does something mysterious with it, resulting in a work in a language you quite possibly don't read a word of, a work you may never truly be in a position to evaluate, and then he publishes it under your name. It's no wonder authors get nervous when they think about all their foreign-language simulacra. Pretty much every author I ever talked to about this is eager to be assured that her translator is "faithful" to the original work. But what does that mean?

I liked her intro to the post so much because it summarizes the conversations I've had with several authors who are considering having their work translated. Most of the authors I have contact with are self-published writers, so they try to be cautious and keep control over the entire process. 

Maybe because of their independent nature they're usually more open and very excited about having their books available in another language and, since there's direct contact with me as their translator, this experience is really rewarding for both parties: we work together and feel like a team that is creating the best possible adaptation for international readers worldwide.