Monday, August 3, 2015

The Translator's Sleepless Nights

From an interview with novelist and translator Juan Gabriel Vásquez:
You’ve translated the work of John Hersey and Victor Hugo, among others. What’s the most challenging aspect of translation for you? Has translating changed your approach to reading fiction in translation?

The most challenging aspect of translation, particularly when working with a book you love, is learning to be unfaithful to the original. Doing a little violence to a sentence you love is hard, and many sleepless nights can be caused by it. As for the second question, the answer is yes. Knowing firsthand how translation works, I’m unable now to read just any Chekhov or Kafka: I have my favorite translators too. Also, I try to read in languages that are closer to the original. I read German literature in English (Sebald by Michael Hulse) but Italian literature in Spanish (Claudio Magris by J. A. González Sainz).

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