Translation

A New Journal Specialized in Translation and Interpreting!

Transletters. International Journal of Translation and Interpreting is a brand spanking new journal that is looking for submissions for its first issue. Deadline is April 30, 2018. María del Mar Ogea from the Universidad de Córdoba and Christiane Nord from Universität Heidelberg are its chief editors, and its advisory board is full of linguistics and translation studies super stars. Don't miss this opportunity to appear in their first issue.


Leaving the Shore

 

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I was just hit with the news that Mavis Gallant has passed away. She was truly one of the great dames of Canadian short stories, along with Margaret Atwood (duh...) and Alice Munro (super double duh...). At 91, she was one of those always present rocks of CanLit with a Québécois connection.

She embodied, for me, someone who lived the foreign. "Now we're on my home ground, foreign territory," as Atwood wrote in her novel Surfacing. And that's exactly how I envisoned Gallant, just without the ensuing madness. She was like the white or black dot in the yin yang symbol, always emersed in the Other, that is where she felt anchored, where she sought her emancipation. The place from where she wrote. How she managed to keep from getting swallowed into this overwhelming sea is the enigma for me. Her writings constitute the clues she left behind in order to answer this -- which shore was she referring to?

I would love to translate more of her work, into French, French from Quebec, to bring her back onto her native shore.

My translation of "La vie parisienne", one of Gallant's short stories, published in 1981.


Off to Antwerp I go!

I found some fantastic news in my inbox bright and early last Monday morning. My submission to the Translation and National Images conference in Antwerp and Amsterdam has been accepted! The topics fit perfectly within my research so I said "What the heck, looks good to me!" and it seems that the conference's scientific committee said the same thing.

Here's the link to the conference itself hosted by Lessius University College and the University of Amsterdam, with the support of CETRA, University of Leuven: http://www.lessius.eu/transimage/

The title of my presentation is A Case of Transposing National Identity in Literary Translation: Translating Montreal Anglophone Jewish Poet A.M. Klein into French, in Quebec.

The gist of it is my desire to implant a couple things. First, the whole field of Anglo-Québécois literature needs to be put out in the forefront and what better way to do this than to translate this literature into French for the French Québécois population. If they don't know this kind of literature exists, how can it get its stripes? And one of the ways they will be able to read it is through translation. I am going to stop here, otherwise I will get carried away.

Secondly, I think (believe...whatever, it's a question of opinion here) that A.M. Klein started looking cross-culturally at a time when it just wasn't done. His "voice", as a result, wasn't really heard on the other side all that well. I think it's time more Francophones find out who he was and what he said about them (way back in the 1940s). Some may be surprised to find out that he actually felt a certain kinship with them... him, the Jewish Anglophone poet... who would have thought.

So, in a nutshell, that's my project for this conference and it will specifically revolve around the poem Parade of St. Jean Baptiste and my translation of it.

I'll post the abstract as soon as it's all in order.


Henri's angle on Poetry Translation

Poétique du traduire

Être responsable de la critique d’une traduction de poésie est une tâche plutôt ingrate. En général, elle consiste à défaire quelque chose qui ne devrait jamais être déconstruit de façon linguistique. Et pourtant, nous insistons régulièrement en procédant ainsi.

La poésie doit être la forme d’écriture qui illustre le mieux le principe de l’holisme : le poème en entier est plus que la somme des mots utilisés pour le composer. Et comme Meschonnic l’a dit, traduire un poème est à quelque part en écrire un. Le poème est la plus pure représentation ou concentration de la voix de l’auteur. Il ne suffira jamais de comprendre simplement les mots pour en faire leur transposition. Le sens des mots forme un tout, s’entremêlant de la voix propre de l’auteur. Le sens des mots? Le sens se retrouve niché dans une multiplicité d’endroits qui débordent grandement des frontières lexicales.

And into English we go this time around...

Criticizing the translation of a poem is a thankless task. Generally, it consists in taking apart something that should never be deconstructed linguistically. Nevertheless, this is the path we always seem to go down.

Poetry has to be the kind of writing that illustrates best the principle of holism: the poem in its entirety is equal to more that the sum of the words used in its composition. Just like Meschonnic wrote, translating a poem is actually writing one. The poem is the purest representation or concentration of the author's voice. It will never be sufficient to simply understand the words in order to transpose them into another language. The meaning of the words make up a whole unit, entertwined with the author's singular voice. The meaning of the words? Meaning is nested in a multiplicity of places that transcend lexical limits.


Are you in or out?

The perpetual labeling of translation as a phenomenon in the margins raises a problem for me. When you're in the margins, you are in effect outside of something. Translation/translating/the translator represent actually exactly the opposite of this. They are so inside, they have fallen through the cracks and are in a world where they have befriended a little girl called Alice.

Doubt Doubt Sprout...

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Maybe I'm just having my own personal political battle. The fundamental question is who could I serve better?

Again, I get this vivid image of being able to go incognito into the unsuspecting east side to bring back treasures to the west side. You figure it out, it has nothing to do with geography anymore. How much of this apparition has to do with a wider acceptance from the west side and a plus grande méfiance from the east side? Not sure. If it were the case, I could not get away with such easy undercover work. Maybe it just has to do with the act of writing, un point c'est tout. They all think I come from France anyway. How much weight is carried by simply being born somewhere? Automatic "membership", but once the verification process is undertaken, do I pass the examination? Sometimes I feel like such an impostor.

Maybe that's why I feel an affinity for Mavis Gallant. Quels sont les vestiges de mon identité? What kind of shape does my screen have?


Gallant's Parisian Life

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I was turned onto Mavis Gallant very late in life by a professor of mine. The first thing I read was her collection of short stories Going Ashore published in 2009. It just felt right. She is one of these authors whose work I can read forever. The finer subtleties of her writing keep me keenly awake and looking in the nooks and crannies of her words. I especially love her more recent work, the short stories written in the 80s. She's been at it for so long, it is fascinating to see how time has affected her story writing and her vision of the world.

This is one Montreal dame that definitely has something to say to the francophone readership of la Belle Province. Let's present her as the Québécois Anglophone she started out as (and still is) and yank her translations back over the Atlantic to her hometown of Montreal.

I decided to translate one of them into French. Its title is "Parisian Life" and it was written in 1981.

Please read on for the translation itself...

Continue reading "Gallant's Parisian Life" »