The Linguist

The Linguist 53,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Vol/53 No/4 2014 AUGUSt/SEptEMBER The Linguist 9 RUSSIAN IN THE UK Do you have a similar approach? AK: poetry is nearly the only genre of literature i translate into English, and carol is a virtuoso translator of fiction, where a completely different set of rules apply. What is similar in our approach is that we both try painstakingly to create a quality text in the target language. A translator has to be a perfectionist! Before i start translating anything, i take a look at the source text and ask myself if it can have a life in another language. the next question would be whether I can give it a life in English. i always choose poems that i am particularly fond of: translating poetry has to be a labour of love. it may be difficult for translators to recreate what Brodsky once described as the 'wild chamber music' of poetry, but if they succeed, the translation becomes itself a work of art. CE: As for my approach, in literature, we have a certain amount of leeway. So if in one place we have to sacrifice, say, alliteration for literal meaning, we can recuperate it in another place, thereby staying true to the author's style. the same can be said of puns, word-play, rhyming. in each particular phrase, i would decide what takes precedence – storyline/meaning or style – and then try to make up for any losses in another phrase where, say, a word-play or a rhyme could be smoothly introduced in the English. Anatoly, you are fluent in English and Russian. How do you decide which language to write in? AK: in fiction, my dwelling place is experimental prose, and at a very early stage i came to a conclusion that the Russian language is better suited to experiment than English. My previous novel, The Flying Dutchman, was even more complexly crafted than Shadowplay. When it comes to poetry, English would be my language of preference at this stage of my life, probably because it is spoken in the part of ireland where i've been living for the last 15 years. Would you say Shadowplay has a Russian tone? AK: i am not sure. only the first part of Shadowplay is set in the country of my birth – unlike The Flying Dutchman, where all the events take place in Russia. carol, what do you think? CE: it's hard to say. Russian literature is so vast. i suppose Shadowplay has a Russian flavour, even the parts set in Germany. i think that is to do with the ease with which we slip into the surreal, plus the underlying theme of 'Big Brother is watching you' and the need for a more meaningful, alternative reality. Anatoly, would you consider translating your own work? i'm afraid i would have been the worst possible translator of my own novels. Somebody else will look at the text from a distance and see it as a certain entity. i wouldn't be able to do that; i would surely get lost in details. people speak about 'author's blindness'; i know very well what they are talking about. i try to avoid translating my poems as i end up writing a completely different poem instead! however, i did volunteer my translations of the two little parody poems from Shadowplay. the first imitates the famous verse 'Brahma' by Emerson: if the red slayer think he slays, or if the slain think he is slain, they know not well the author's ways of solving problems in his brain. the other is a 'Nabokov-penned' comment on pushkin's Eugene Onegin: Leafing through 'Onegin', I marked the margin: How little doth the author know About his subject! carol was kind enough not to criticise these too severely, so we decided to keep them. Shadowplay on a Sunless Day is published by Glagoslav in disUNITY: Selected works by Anatoly Kudryavitsky (2013), translated by Carol Ermakova. JOURNEY OF A NOVEL (Clockwise from l): Carol Ermakova at her desk; Frankfurt Book Fair; and copies of disUNITY

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