Look Into a Translator’s Reading List

The Seminary Co-Op has an interesting piece by translator Robert Chandler, who (along with his wife, Elizabeth Chandler, and Olga Meerson) has recently published a retranslation of a Russian gem: The Foundation Pit (from NYRB Classics).

Chandler briefly mentions Pit, and then goes on to divulge what he's been and is reading. The list is full of excellent explanations, such as:

The Fifty Minute Mermaid by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill; trans. Paul Muldoon.

Every language embodies a particular view of the world; every language, probably, is better equipped to describe some aspects of reality and worse equipped to describe others. A good translator is always hoping to expand the possibilities of his own language, to find a way to embody in his own language forms of experience that do not easily find a home in it. This book is a meditation on everything that is most elusive, everything that is most remote from our adult, rational consciousness. Originally written in Irish Gaelic – a language with only 20,000 to 30,000 native speakers – the poems purport to be an account of the narrator’s meetings with the surviving members of a group of ‘merfolk’ who, for some reason chose – or perhaps were forced – to make their home on dry land some two hundred years before . . .

This is a great feature. I'm looking forward to the next installment . . .


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