The great, great Lydia Davis on Madame Bovary, Nabokov, and the vagaries of a text in translation. I’m jealous of her adventures in the New York Public Library, poring over Nabokov’s marginalia.
“As the author of Las Horas, Die Stunden and De Uren — ostensibly the Spanish, German and Dutch translations of my book The Hours, but actually unique works in their own right — I’ve come to understand that all literature is a product of translation. That is, translation is not merely a job assigned to a translator expert in a foreign language, but a long, complex and even profound series of transformations that involve the writer and reader as well. ‘Translation’ as a human act is, like so many human acts, a far more complicated proposition than it may initially seem to be.”
“Found in Translation,” The New York Times
There’s something about David Bellos that looses book designers’ imaginations. Here’s the French cover for The Fish and the Banana Tree: A Legendary Story of Translation. (Or, as it’s known on these shores, Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything.)
To coincide with the NBCC nomination for Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything, I thought why not take another look at this candid discussion with the author:
“I mean, we all live in that state, that I am not like you. My experience is not directly commensurable with yours, and yet, for us to get on and to be human and to be in a society, we have to also make the assumption that in another dimension, we’re all the same. We have the same needs, the same fears, the same desires.”
-David Bellos on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. (via)