Sunday, 14 December 2014

'In Other Words' from the British Centre for Literary Translation

I'm a big fan of the good people at the British Centre for Literary Translation, the hub of all things concerning literary translation back in the UK, so I was intrigued to hear about their twice-yearly journal In Other Words.  Recently, I was lucky enough to be sent a PDF of the latest edition after a discussion on Twitter - particularly so as I was actually name-checked in one of the articles ;)

The journal runs to about 100 pages of articles on literary translation, with the submissions covering a variety of topics.  The main focus of the latest edition is on the effects of the digital age, with a piece by translation doyenne Anthea Bell on how she has kept up to date with technology throughout her long and distinguished career.  Another interesting article looked at the concept of video game 'localisation', where the translators have to deal with issues not only of language but also of visuals and sound (and usually on a rather tight schedule).

There are many areas covered outside the digital focus.  As well as a round-up of conference events and a description of what some translators are doing inside British schools, there's an intriguing look at a close reading of some translation (from Finnish!) and a lovely piece by Roland Glasser in which (lucky man) he describes his experiences of a translation residency near Zurich...

A couple of familiar names popped up as contributors.  Peirene Press' Meike Ziervogel looked at Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, focusing on the influence Conrad's linguistic background had on the book, and Esther Allen's article was a plea to reviewers to engage more with the work of the translator when looking at translated fiction (which isn't quite as easy as she makes it sound...).

My main reason for reading, though, was the article written by Robert Burdock (AKA the creator of Rob Around Books).  His piece explained the evolution of his career as a 'literary evangelist' and was a stirring call to arms to all involved in bringing fiction in translation to the notice of the wider public.  It was nice of him to acknowledge others fighting the good fight, and Stu, Lizzy and myself were all mentioned in dispatches ;)

I'd have to agree with his main point as it really is good to feel part of a community (I've heard of - and tweeted with - a surprising number of the people mentioned in the journal).  Like Rob, I find that it's easy to feel a little isolated at times; living on the far-flung outer-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, I'm probably more isolated than most from the centres of the translated fiction world.  I do like to get involved with these things, though, whether in Norwich/London (the British side of the Atlantic) or Rochester/New York/San Francisco (across the pond), so it's good to hear from all the names I see mentioned so frequently :)

If you're interested in the field, you could do a lot worse than have a look at In Other Words.  There's something for everyone, whether you're a writer, translator, agent or reader.  And let's face it - in a world of Dan Browns and Tom Clancys, we need as much support as we can get ;)