I happened to hear the Radio 4 programme A Good Read this afternoon which is presented by the wonderful Sue McGregor. This week’s guests were Maureen Freely and Julian Barnes, both of whom are novelists and translators. I don’t think I’ve read any of Julian Barnes’ translations (Alphonse Daudet’s In the Land of Pain), but Maureen Freely has translated four of Orhan Pamuk’s books – including Snow and Istanbul: Memories of a City.
Have a listen to the programme - it should be available for a few days – to hear their discussion about literary translators and translation. At one point Maureen says that
“the most important thing if you’re trying to translate a literary novel is to get into the interior space of the novel, and hear the voice… hear the voice as if it were your own. Of course, it isn’t but you have to get to that place where you’re hearing it and then you write as you would write yourself.”
By the way, the books they choose are (Julian Barnes) The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald, and (Maureen Freely) Mercedes-Benz by Pawel Huelle (trans. Antonia Lloyd-Jones).