Friday, 23 October 2009

Breon Mitchell on The Tin Drum

At Two Words, Scott Esposito talks to Breon Mitchell about retranslating Günter Grass' Tin Drum. He pretty much covers all the bases, except for asking whether Breon is a cat person or a dog person. Maybe I should try and get an interview with him too.

I'm currently immersed in the new translation, savouring every page. I'm using the Charlie Bucket reading method, which I'm sure you're familiar with: nibbling a tiny bit at a time, then shutting the book again, closing my eyes and enjoying the taste for as long as possible. I am so impressed. There's so much rhythm and texture in there all of a sudden!

In fact, this would be the perfect book to run one of those online joint reading ventures on like with Infinite Jest, don't you think?


Lizzy Siddal said...

It is indeed a perfect book for an online parallel read. In my pre-Lizzy, pre-blogging days, I did just that! On the BBC bigreaders board, a group of us read quite a clutch of German classics: Effi Briest, Buddenbrooks, Crabwalk, Narziss and Goldmund and, of course, the masterpiece that is The Tin Drum.

The new translation of the latter finds me contemplating doing it all again but not until next year. Might it be something that The World Literature Forum would be interested in doing?

kjd said...

Oh, that would be fantastic. Do you want to ask?

Lizzy Siddal said...


David said...

The joint reading project sounds great! I'm rereading Blechtrommel now.

Question about your reading method. Are you also doing a "Stichprobe" of the original German? Rhythm and texture are wonderful, but does it accurately convey the original? (I'm thinking, of course, of Lowe-Porter's translations of Thomas Mann, which had wonderful "rhythm and texture" but, alas, little to do with Mann's sentences.)

kjd said...

David, I'm not. Although I've done it in the past, I find it spoils my fun - making the whole exercise rather a busman's holiday.

But I know Breon Mitchell has gone to great efforts to write a more accurate translation than Ralph Manheim's version.

Lizzy Siddal said...

There doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm on the WorldLiteratureForum. So I'm - er - drumming up support for a readalong on my blog today.