Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two tiny books

40. Translation in Practice: a symposium, edited by Gill Paul

A wonderful booklet created from a translation symposium. It details the best practices for a fiction translator. I was already familiar with most of this information, but it was nice to get all the pointers and discussions on problematic translation issues within one book.
The symposium discussed issues that translators often run into, such as how to translate puns and jokes (if the equivalent does not exist in your target language, you should rather leave them out rather than confuse the reader) to how to deal with novels where awkward phrasing has been used for an effect (don't translate it into awkward target language--everyone will think you're a bad translator. Explain the awkwardness somehow). In addition to these problems and some dos and don'ts bullet lists for translators, the book also discusses the business side of translation, namely how to deal with the author of the novel, the acquiring editor and the editor/proofreader.

41. Laulajan paperit by Anja Erämaa

Let me preface this by saying that I do enjoy poetry every now and then. When I was in high school, I went on a real Pablo Neruda binge--I just loved his style (or rather, the style of the Finnish translations).

This poetry book by a small Finnish publisher, though, did nothing for me. The poems are in paragraph form, so they read like very short, one-page long stories. Except that the author uses very free-form, "poem" punctuation. Now, I understand than in writing prose the author has much more leeway in punctuation and style than in writing nonfiction. And that's fine. But some of the punctuation was just so random that when I encountered a spacing error it read to me more as if nobody had proofread or edited the book (even the author herself) than the punctuation being an artistic choice.

Reviews have described the poems absurd and ironic. I found them very self-conscious, especially when some of the rhymes seem to have been thrown in not for their meaning, but just because they rhyme and may sound funny to the reader.

With that said, there were a couple of poems that I really liked, where the author seemed to stop thinking about how she's a Real Poet who Writes Poetry Really Seriously, and where she was just being honest. No gimmicky language, just wonderful descriptions and fresh metaphors.

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