Tag Archives: translation

International Translation Blog

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There’s a (relatively) new translation blog in town, and its name is the Biblioasis International Translation Blog. Biblioasis is a small Canadian press and bookstore (@biblioasis and @BiblioasisStore, respectively) based out of Windsor, Ontario that is doing exciting things on all fronts: literary prose, poetry, nonfiction, and translation. Per the blog:

When the Biblioasis International Translation Blog was created in 2012, it was with the ambition of becoming an online forum for literary translation in Canada and beyond. Although we got off to a decent start, with feature articles from the likes of Douglas Glover, Alberto Manguel, Scott Esposito and others, a litany of minor priorities—running a press? editing a magazine? launching a brick and mortar bookstore? teaching university courses?—kept getting in the way. Go figure. Finite resources, limited energy, and ambition make for a precarious dance. We’re still working out the kinks in our steps.

If you enjoy reading stuff from different languages or simply discovering new voices from other cultures, check out this blog. Lots of great material to look over, and Jesse Eckerlin is doing a great job on a limited budget/schedule.

Also, here’s a link to the Biblioasis blog and the Biblioasis website if you want to learn more about them.

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Translation & Book Cover Designs

Ennnnn! (Sorry, I’m trying to figure out the onomatopoeia for a buzzer sound when you’re wrong.) The above book cover design would have infuriated Franz Kafka.

Josh Jones has written an interesting piece titled “Franz Kafka Says the Insect in The Metamorphosis Should Never Be Drawn; Vladimir Nabokov Draws It Anyway” for openculture.com that is quite eye-opening. Well, eye-opening in the way that word-nerd enthusiasts and translators get excited about. As Mr. Jones claims:

“If you’ve read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis in English, it’s likely that your translation referred to the transformed Gregor Samsa as a ‘cockroach,’ ‘beetle,’ or, more generally, a ‘gigantic insect’…But the German words used in the first sentence of the story to describe Gregor’s new incarnation are much more mysterious, and perhaps strangely laden with metaphysical significance.”

As such, the following book cover design is a more open interpretation of Kafka’s intentions with Gregor’s metamorphosis.

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But there’s more to it than that. Mr. Jones goes on to quote translator Susan Bernofsky and her article from The New Yorker, “On Translating Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’“:

“[B]oth the adjective ungeheuer (meaning “monstrous” or “huge”) and the noun Ungeziefer are negations—virtual nonentities—prefixed by un.” Ungeziefer, a term from Middle High German, describes something like ‘an unclean animal unfit for sacrifice,’ belonging to ‘the class of nasty creepy-crawly things.'”

Thus, Bernofsky argues:

“Kafka wanted us to see Gregor’s new body and condition with the same hazy focus with which Gregor himself discovers them.”

And that’s why the original German publication of Die Verwandlung is closest to Kafka’s vision of the perfect book cover design.

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If I Could Turn Back Time…

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No, it would not be to recreate a Cher song. Or maybe it would. I’m not sure at this point because I have the stupid thing playing on a loop in my head right now.

Writing for futurism.com, Chelsea Gohd published a piece called “We Can’t Alter The Flow of Time But, According to Physics, We Can Bend It” a few days ago, and I lapped up every word.

We’ve all considered the notion of time travel at one point in our lives. Don’t deny it. Ever since that excellent! film (not movie) Back to the Future II, when Biff steals a sports almanac and goes back in time to make himself crazy rich, we’ve all entertained notions of joining the Biffs of the world.

As far as I understand – and with much of what I learned at M.I.T. relegated to the depths of the Mariana Trench – Einstein conceived of travelling forward in time (assuming we could reach the speed of light), but never back in time. He did leave open one possibility that even he could only speculate about: wormholes.

Although I’m generally apathetic when it comes to sci-fi literature and movies, I’ve been thinking a lot about the space-time continuum lately because of a Korean novel I’m helping to translate, author Kim Hee-sun’s The Multiverses of Infinity (무한의 책).

It goes without saying that I’m ecstatic to be part of a project I truly believe in and helping breathe life into it for English readers one day. (Think Kafka meets Murakami Haruki in a dark Prague alley, somehow the two speak the same language, and after a quick meet-and-greet of sorts, they decide to stroll off together to a Harajuku jazz club, where they will discuss beautifully shaped ears and huge insects.) And since the plot of Multiverses involves a character going back in time, it’s got me thinking.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the central driving force for this character to go back in time is to help someone, not hurt them, and not to benefit in any selfish way like our friend Biff. If we as human beings ever do come up with a way to travel through time, I can’t help but wonder what our motivation would be.

Anyway, Ms. Gohd’s article on space-time is nothing short of fascinating and illuminating. And to quote Gohd quoting Stephen Hawking at the end, “Even if it turns out that time travel is impossible, it is important that we understand why it is impossible.”

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