Didn’t mention our foray to the DWF yesterday. Dragged my poor daughter to hear Sebastian Barry, Anne Enright and Hugo Hamilton talk about Irish writers in translation. When my daughter couldn’t stay awake I took pity in her and we left…
Interesting topic, though. To me at least. The same goes for all writers, not just Irish. Not to mention contemporary readers translating literature from times past. In the same language, even. We don’t see, say, Victorian writing the way Dickens did. We think we do but we don’t get the full extent of it because we didn’t live it.
There’s no understanding what anyone thinks, really. Our personal experiences and prejudices inform all we do. You may believe you know a person and not. You know what that person wants you to see. We all compartmentalize. And misunderstandings? Don’t get me started. Especially with the advent of the Internet. We can’t see facial expression or hear inflection. But we surely can be offended by what seems cutting and unkind.
How much of life is lost in translation? An awful, awful lot. How much could so easily be rectified? Most, I’d venture to guess, with just one small gesture of kindness.
No wonder literature in translation is so difficult. All of life is.