I don’t know how you got here, but a warm welcome to you. We’re on, with lots of enthusiasm and few certainties.
I should start by introducing myself. So, without further ado: Giuseppe Manuel Brescia. Born in Savona, Italy. Living in West End, Brisbane, Australia. High-flying literary translator. An obsession with words and languages whose roots go back where my memory can’t chase them. I think that might be enough for now.
Why, out of the blue, did I decide to add yet another drop to the blogging ocean? Besides passion, narcissism and interest, the driving force of this adventure is my will to contribute my two cents towards a more appropriate recognition of the precious work of translators. Because – we’ll see this in details in the coming posts – it is not an overstatement to say that translation has been of pivotal importance in human history.
So we’ll talk about translation, here, in particular literary translation, my speciality. The hope is to be able to do so with fellow translators as well as with readers or curious passers-by. With the former, I would like to exchange ideas, going beyond mere technicalities but without losing ourselves in theories, either. As for everyone else, it would be great if their visit could be an opportunity to consider that every time we enjoy a foreign book, or movie, it means that someone, in a room, in front of a computer, spent months inside that work to give us the opportunity to be effortlessly transported elsewhere. And of course it’s not just about entertainment.
Countless similes and metaphors have been coined to describe our work. Algerian writer Amara Lakhous came up with a gem that, in my modest opinion, surpasses many theorists:
“Sometimes I think of myself as a smuggler: I cross the borders of languages with a booty of words, ideas, images and metaphors.”
And that’s exactly what it feels like. Under the reassuring surface of linguistic familiarity, the translated work contains precisely this: smuggled ideas, images, metaphors, elements and principles that originate on the other side of the linguistic border. Alien stories that, once immersed in the accessibility of translation, are transplanted on the other side of the border, literally generating new ways of perceiving, organising, conceiving reality itself.
Stop for a moment, and consider the vital role of translation in the history of human progress. The examples are literally countless. Let’s think about how the Roman Empire could have evolved if the influx of Greek ideas, smuggled through translations, hadn’t progressively modified the mores maiorum.
How would Europe look and sound like if the ideas put forward by French and German, English and Spanish, Russian and Italian thinkers hadn’t cross-pollinated through translation?
Imagine never having read Garcia Marquez, Pennac, Kundera, Nietzsche, or any other foreign author might have opened your mind. It’s impossible to imagine how we would think, but there is no doubt that our brains would function in a very different way.
I think the general idea is clear. That – that and much more, of course – is what we’ll be talking about, with analyses, reflections, case studies, translations, interviews, news. If you’re interested, you’ll find me here. Please drop by, have a read, ruminate, post comments, criticisms, anything that could spark an interesting debate.
See you soon.