Grass calls in the translators

I listen to the BBC world service program The strand which feature a piece on the third volume of Gunter Grass auto bio /bio /fiction trilogy .The first two parts being peeling the Onion and the box .Now the third part  Grimms Wörter. Eine Liebeserklärung or in english Grimm’s Words: A Declaration of Love ,is a book in the form of a dictionary /bio involving Grass the Grimm brothers .Now this book is virtually untranslatable due to its layout and how its alphabetical layout also follows the story of grass and Grimm brothers .So grass called all his translators to meet him and be challenged to translate this book .Grass has always worked with his translators this led to the new tin drum translation in 2006 as grass felt the original cut to much of his original book, .Now he is want the translators to use their life to translate the book in to their languages ,now it seems as thou only the Dutch and Danish translators will be doing so as their languages closet to german ,there was no mention of the english translation sure one of our talented german translators my take up the challenge .

But this led to a question is the some books that can’t be translated ?

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Geosi
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 20:48:17

    I also listened to this yesterday but I am tempted to believe that it still can be translated.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 23, 2011 @ 23:03:13

      I hope so too even if it has to be re worked seems shame if it dosen’t sure some one will try some one did perec’s void which was a impossible task ,all the best stu


  2. Nana Fredua-Agyeman
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 07:59:07

    Every translation loses something from the original. It happens always and the more difficult the translation the more that is lost. Hence, even though I believe with time it would be translated, it would lose a chunk of the story along the way. And if not the story, the structure would be compromised.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 24, 2011 @ 21:31:01

      Think this what grass want a different version of the same book with translator using there life in parts where they can’t replace the word in the dictionary ,all the best stu


  3. Becky (Page Turners)
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 22:28:07

    That’s really fascinating. I wish I had an opinion on whether some books can’t be translated but I don’t really know enough about it. I do know this – if some of the translated books I read and that amazing in English – I can’t imagine how great they must be in their original language. I especially wish that I could read Roberto Bolano in Spanish


  4. Rise
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 05:31:59

    If a book is extremely difficult to translate, maybe two excellent translators can collaborate to make it easier for them.


  5. Sarah
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 01:04:55

    It’s a good question, Stu. I recently commented that I thought Ulysses would be a difficult book to translate, given Joyce’s use of dialect, both geographical and historical, not to mention made-up words. It was then suggested to me that the successful translation into English of Perec’s The Void must have been even harder to achieve, written as it is without using the letter e.

    My recent experience with Ovid tells me that poetry requires especially sensitive translation, but overall I suspect that it is post-modern, playing with form as well as meaning, that must be the most difficult. The acrostics in House of Leaves for example.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 23:15:24

      Ulyesses must be hard ,I ve a void glance at it and do wonder what was lost to do it english ,house leaves is hard one too I would think there are more translators abroad thou as translation is much more common ,all the best stu


  6. Tom Cunliffe
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 08:02:28

    The Tin Drum is one of my all time favourite books, and I bought this new translation as soon as it came out. Not only is it well -translated as far as I can tell, the book is printed on good paper and is nicely typeset. Great stuff. I must read it again soon


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March 2011


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