Translating was the manifestation of the desire to engage with a certain process, the mechanics of writing, to see what I could learn from these writers.
Mostly, I’ve been happy to translate the books I have translated, even though they weren’t my choices. In some ways, I envy those who only translate the books they choose, but on the other hand, I’ve had the chance, thanks to publishers, to get to know books and authors I might not otherwise have known about.
I really do think that writers are the ideal people to be translators. To translate a text, you must understand it fully and be able to basically rewrite it in a new language. Clearly, then, it helps if a translator has experience with writing, the writing process, analyzing literature, and editing. Certainly there are good translators out there who do not work on their own original writing and likewise there are good writers who don’t have the patience for or interest in working with other people’s documents,but in general, I believe translating and writing are worthy and compatible mates and I find both that reading, analyzing, and translating texts has benefited my own writing and also that writing stories and articles has helped me better understand the English language and how to translate into it.
Translating is different from writing in that the translator has the text already ready to hand; our task is to recreate that same text in our own language, just as the writer?s task was to create that text in his/her own language.
There wasn’t a particularly heavy editing process, in part because the book is so short and concise, but I had great editors whose main influence was to suggest some very good solutions to a few things I had been struggling with. Juan Pablo didn’t influence the translation per se, but was very helpful in terms of providing answers to my questions about Mexican food, swear words and in-jokes.
There is a place for many types of literary translation in the world, including translation in the world, including translation out of one national literature and into another.
Literary translation is an art; five literary translators would translate a given piece in five different ways.
I think we need to remain optimistic. There are now many younger literary translators and readers of literary translators.
Gregory Rabassa’s achievements as a translator are difficult to measure. In historical terms, his translations parallel the introduction into English of a whole generation of Latin American writers whose innovations have revitalized the novel and established new directions in short fiction.
JH: When did your efforts at translating seem to become an activity, a calling even, that you knew would stay important to you?
MSP: The work seemed important from that first book on.
I also believe that translation is about recreating an experience you have reading, which necessarily means some kind of adaptation to get the reading pleasure across.
C’est une relation extrêmement fragile, méfiante et complexe», estime Olivier Mannoni, président de l’Association des traducteurs littéraires de France (ATLF), traducteur de Martin Suter et de Peter Sloterdijk. Sara Strisdsberg, écrivain suédoise, auteur notamment de Happy Sally et Darling River, reconnaît: «Être traduit est une expérience assez inconfortable. Les questions des traducteurs m’amènent à penser que le nouveau texte sera une pâle copie de l’original.» Auteur et traducteur, un drôle de couple
« C’est une expérience très intime, comme si l’on m’invitait à entrer dans l’atelier de fabrication. Cela n’a pas d’égal », confie, émerveillée, Valérie Zenatti, traductrice d’Aaron Appelfeld (L’Olivier), et dont le premier roman, En retard pour la guerre, sortira en salles à l’automne, adaptépar Alain Tassema. Auteurs ou traducteurs?
Traduire, est-ce trahir ? David Bellos propose aux mécontents de la traduction… de lire l’original. « La traduction ne peut pas détruire, elle ne fait pas de mal à l’original ». Auteurs et traducteurs, le livre à quatre mains