Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wisdom from Pasternak

Portrait of Boris Pasternak (Yuri Annenkov, 1921) / Image courtesy of WikiPaintings
“I believe, as do many others, that closeness to the original is not ensured only by literal exactness or by similarity of form: the likeness, as in a portrait, cannot be achieved without a lively and natural method of expression. As much as the author, the translator must confine himself to a vocabulary which is natural to him and avoid the literary artifice involved in stylization. Like the original text, the translation must create an impression of life and not of verbiage.” 
– Boris Pasternak (“Translating Shakespeare,” 1956, trans. M. Harari)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What They Said in Kansas City

Statue of Winston Churchill near the conference hotel in Kansas City / Image courtesy of ChrisM70

Each fall, a group of translators gathers somewhere in North America for the annual conference of the American Literary Translators Association. I’ve gone twice now to the ALTA conference, and I can’t imagine a more welcoming community for a beginning translator. In particular, those who translate from Russian and suchlike languages have gone out of their way to make me feel at home. And I truly appreciate their company. For someone like me who often has no real connection with other translators for months at a time, ALTA can be downright exhilarating.

My second ALTA conference took place in November of last year in Kansas City, and ever since then I’ve been meaning to write up a quick post giving a few highlights from the gathering. Well, somehow the busyness of everyday life has prevented me from even writing something “quick,” but a nasty cold that kept me home from work today has given me a little free time to organize my thoughts.