Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Novel translations...

So here I am - the bilingual writer who messes up by mixing essentials of both languages. The frustration there threw me into a fit of reading - not procrastination! Little did I knew this would actually increase my anxiety. Now true, usually readers read in one language and stick with it thus never encountering the difference - or problem - a translation of a novel might present. And even though I tend to read in English as my mind works in that language - and yes I dream in it as well - I am perfectly able to read same books in German as well. My current frustration also means that I'm hovering in a state of trying to come to a decision wether to re-write current novel in German or continue in English. To do so I figured if I read my favorite series in both languages thinking whichever result I'd end up with reading could only improve my own writing in whichever language.
Little did I realize I would end up ripping my hair out: I saw some butchery that I could not believe...
WTF have you done to my favorite story?!
Translators should be the mimics of the book world; they must pass for someone else. Just as editors strive for invisibility, translators should be inaudible. 
“If I have a voice of my own, it absolutely must not appear,” says Sheila Fischman, the US' most celebrated translator. Polinquin, another, echoed this: “Translating is like writing but with someone else’s hand.” Fischman also maintains it’s “essential” that her own voice does not infiltrate the text. 
I couldn't agree more!
 But the subject of authorial voice appears to be up for debate. 
Poliquin opinion on that: “I don’t mind if my own voice is there.”
Well I certainly do!
I do as a bilingual reader and I would most certainly as a writer!!
I would very much mind if my story becomes a different one, wouldn't you?
Sure, most writers will never know. Foreign rights are sold and that means more readers and more business. Surely a great thing to achieve no doubt about that and rarely does a writer know all or any of the languages her or his work is translated into and will check if it turned out like something that still resembles the original. I'd bet some would be in for a big surprise.
Alas in the case I have at hand the surprise came in figures and responses in specific forums.
To me as having read through both works (no I confess I haven't finished the German series yet - it's an extremely painful process I tell you), I could give some answers on why German sales lack behind and why German readers haven't much nice to say about it.
It's lucky the author doesn't speak German.
And rather concentrates on writing new books - in English. Thank God.
(to be continued)