Writing Translation

Happy May Day.

My student, Ben Norwood, sent me a wonderful end-of-the-semester gift today–a copy of the The Republic of Letters, the journal begun by Saul Bellow.  Ben translated one of the stories in it, a piece called, “Xavier the Leper,” by Alberto Rangel, from Spanish.

I’m just in awe of this.

The story is dense and gorgeous and Ben says that some of the plant and animal names are Amazonian with no English equivalent yet.  This translation thing boggles my mind.  First of all, you have to get the meaning of the story right.  And then you have to worry about what it sounds like, the style, the voice, the tone.

Of course, now that I think about it, that’s what you have to do when writing fiction in general.  But translating adds a whole other layer to it.

Its pretty cool.  I’m so pleased Ben sent it to me.

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