Monday, May 21, 2012

Tim Parks on fear and translation

Apropos of fear, this still shows Ingrid Bergman and Mathas Wieman in the 1954 Rossellini film, "La Paura"
At the New York Review of Books blog, novelist and translator Tim Parks reaches into the space between fear and literature.  Observing that "in the world of literature there is a predominance of people whose approach to life is structured around issues of fear and courage and who find it difficult to find a stable position in relation to those values," he notes the split between writers who are drawn to the bookish, uncelebrated work of translation:
That certain vocations attract a particular character type is evident enough. At the university where I work in Milan, we have two post-grad courses for language students, one in interpreting and one in translation. With some exceptions the difference in attitude and character between members of the two groups is evident. The students who come to translation are not looking to be out there in the fray of the conference, under the spotlights; they like the withdrawn, intellectual aspect of translation. Often their problem as they begin their careers is not so much the work itself, but the self-marketing required to find the work.
Even when a translator can overcome his or her natural (ostensible) aversion to self-promotion, they are not helped much by standard practices in publishing or book-selling which fail to spotlight, or in some cases even to acknowledge, the translator's role in bringing a book to a new language market.


Parks is Associate Professor of Literature and Translation at IULM University in Milan. Among his many translations is The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony by Roberto Calasso -- a book I own, enjoy, and consider indispensable. Parks's latest novel, The Server, translates the experience of a Vipassana retreat into terms explicable to a Western skeptic (wherein, as well, 'man meets woman'.)" - ZWB

No comments: