I was invited to write the inaugural essay for Rear View Mirror, a new column under the aegis of HOW Journal that aims to reintroduce neglected and undervalued authors to a new audience. I’m excited to be a contributor to the project, and I hope readers of AMB will keep an eye on the column, as it promises to discuss some of the most significant writers still waiting in the wings.
The Higher The Level Of A Work, The More Does It Remain Translatable
Even If Its Meaning Is Touched Upon Only Fleetingly,
Or: João Guimarães Rosa, The Whole Wild Word
A new German translation of Grande Sertão: Veredas is underway. German translator, Berthold Zilly, will translate the Brazilian masterpiece for Munich publisher, Hansel. Currently a visiting professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Berthold Zilly is acclaimed for his translations of great Brazilian works such as Euclides Da Cunha’s Os Sertões.
The interview at Estadão, here, from which the material for this post was taken and translated by my self for the benefit of English readers, reports that Zilly was very hesitant to undertake the project, which will take three years of exclusive dedication.
In the interview for Estadão, journalist, José Geraldo Couto, cites the fact that the first German translator, Curt Meyer-Clason, had the great advantage of corresponding with João Guimarães Rosa to ask questions and exchange ideas about the translation throughout the process, and asks Zilly why the current German translation isn’t enough.
It’s a good translation that accounts for plot & character traits, but it flattens a significant portion of the difficulties of Rosean language in an effort to accomplish readability for a German audience. Continue reading