The project continues and this time I’m travelling – so to speak – to the beautiful Slovenia with the wonderful book Antonov Cirkus (roughly translated as “Anthony Circus”) by Peter Svetina, a story of creativity, imagination and friendship.
Ok, not literally.
As you all know, I have challenged myself to translate a children’s book from every country in the world. It’s a very ambitious (some people would call it “crazy”) project but I’m very excited about it and it’s working out perfectly… but I need some extra help. Finding a book from different countries is not an easy task.
When I started the Project Translating the World I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. I had (have!) big plans, tons of ideas and topics and I knew all that would bring me lots of fun. Until now, I have managed to translate five lovely books and although there are still 190 to go I feel very optimistic about it because the beginnings are always harder and lately I am feeling like doing the project is getting smoother and easier, since I have more experience and therefore I know what I want and how I want to do it.
Daniel Napp delights us with the funny story of Dr. Brumm, a very friendly bear who struggles with human technology. In Dr. Brumm versteht das nicht our main character tries to figure out why his TV stopped working in the middle of the match, and he won’t stop until he gets a clear answer.
One of the best experiences I get whilst doing the Translate the World Project is the little surprises that appear along the way. That’s the case of the Finnish book I am translating: the Polish version is a rhymed text but the original book wasn’t written in verse! Yet children’s books are rich in literary devices such as rhyme. The texts include songs, chants, alternations of prose and verse, popular sayings, etc. That is why the fact that the Polish translator decided to adapt the original book into a rhymed version is not so shocking. However, it is very interesting in terms of translation methods and techniques.
Yet another book added to my beautiful collection of books from every country in the world. The translation of this book has proved a challenging one – it’s written entirely in verse! The wonderful Réka Király delights us with this philosophical story that tries to answer one of the hardest questions of all: What does “tomorrow” mean? Pieni suuri tarina huomisesta is a poetical metaphor of time and conciousness.
One of the perks of being a translator is that it allows you to be a (better) reader. They say that translators are better at playing Trivial Pursuit since they need to know about many different subjects and knowledge areas. The thing about translating books is that you are bound to read many different stories, some of which you probably wouldn’t choose to read given the chance.
Yesterday, Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 by the Swedish Academy. It is the first time in history that a songwriter wins the award and this situation has spurred polemical reactions with some people supporting the decision and others criticizing the fact that it’s not a novelist or a poet who won the prize.
Interestingly enough, The Nobel Prize in Literature has only been awarded once to a children’s book author since its origin. The laureate was Rudyard Kipling, famous for his novel Jungle Book. Even though he didn’t write exclusively for children, it is the closest to a children’s writer that wins the Nobel Prize.
“Childhood is the time and children’s books are the place for powerful emotions, powerful language, powerful art… There is no room for cutesy books, dull books, or books that talk down. Children are not inferior. They may be small in stature but not in what they feel, think, listen, and see.”
HEARNE, B. (2000): Choosing Books for Children: A Commonsense Guide, University of Illinois Press, Illinois.
One of my favourite things to check on the internet are the so-called “untranslatable words” (or expressions) from different languages, where you can find many different foreign sayings that don’t exist in the rest of the cultures, so they are accompanied by a description of their meaning. It’s nice to see how different countries use words for things that they experience daily that the rest of people do not experience in such a way that you need a word for it. You’re not just learning about languages, you are learning about perspectives too.