Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Prayer to St. Jerome, patron saint of translators

So this semester I'm taking a class called Studies in Literary Translation. We're almost done with the reading essays and discussing part of class, and in a few weeks we'll switch to a workshop format, where we'll all comment on eachother's translations-in-progress. I'm petrified. Especially since I haven't found a work to translate yet.

The criteria? Ten pages of poetry or twenty pages of prose, written in a foreign language, previously non-extant in English. It's not that I haven't been looking. I first decided to look into works in French, since my two years of that are floating closer to the top of my consciousness. I had some ideas, none too thrilling, but then we read a Spanish poem in class and I realized how much better I like reading Spanish than French (turns out my three years of high school Spanish aren't as buried as I thought, as far as reading goes).

My first bright idea was to combine my love of Texas History with my need to translate something, and see if there were any memoirs, poetry, journals, even letters written by Mexican settlers. I tried a few leads for that, including e-mailing and writing to the president of the Alamo Heros chapter of the Daughters of the Texas Republic. Nothing doing, unfortunatley.

My next idea was to look into a chapter of a book published recently enough that other translators wouldn't have gotten hold of it yet. I finally found one that looked really interesting: Jose Saramago's "Las intermitencias de la muerte." I actually bought this book, and I think I'll actually read it in Spanish. But there's a catch for my class project. The Spanish version is a translation from Portuguese. D'OH! I don't know Portuguese, and translating a translation seems a bit . . . pointless. Why propigate someone else's potential errors, or even just their distances from the original. Sigh.

So TOMORROW I'm going to the library. I'm going to find the current periodicals section (never been there), find the creative writing journals (never seen'em), find the ones in Spanish (Dios mio), and find a short story or two (I am NOT translating poetry, I'm not that cocky!)

St. Jerome, patron saint of translators, pray for me . . . I REALLY gotta get started on this . . .

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