Posts Tagged ‘Untranslatability’

In October, I had the privilege to be invited as a panelist to the Sydney Symposium on Literary Translation, organised by the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney.

The Group has recently made the recordings available on their website, and in the coming weeks I will be linking to the different sessions and share some thoughts.

First things first, so you can listen to Ivor Indyk’s welcome speech to start.

Most importantly, do not miss the opportunity to listen to the first keynote lecture, delivered by the amazing Esther Allen. She is currently translating some documents from the Dossier Flaubert (0:30 – 3:25 for the background story)  and her paper was absolutely captivating, mixing literary criticism, translation theory and translation practice.

I was particularly intrigued by her reference to “linguistic untranslatable” and “biographical untranslatable” (8:27 – 10:48), brought about by a reference to a dream in one of Flaubert’s letters, namely, “the dream of Pimpenpohè”. Listen to her reflections on this very evocative word to see a great example of the challenges literary translators face on a regular basis.

The lecture lasted more than an hour, but went by in a flash, and I am sure that no one will regret listening to it, if they find the time. From the parallel between realism in sculpture and in literature to the way she mercilessly exposed Nabokov’s trivial and sometimes plain incompetent criticism of Eleanor Marx’s translation of Madame Bovary, Esther showed how translation and translation studies can be not just of great academic significance, but also very entertaining for a more general readership. Enjoy.

Read Full Post »