Sunday, 31 January 2010

Spoilt for Choice: Translation Events

Translation events are not unlike interesting men or the 207 bus*. You wait an eternity and then two come along at once. True to form, Berlin's translation enthusiasts will be wishing for mobile cloning equipment on Tuesday, 9 February, when two fascinating-sounding events clash - only yards apart.

The American Academy (Am Sandwerder 17-19) has the translator and writer Peter Wortsman in the house, speaking about "Translating Others and Myself". Wortsman has translated Robert Musil, Peter Altenberg, Adelbert von Chamisso, Heinrich Heine, the contemporary Swiss author Juerg Läderach, sixteenth-century German humanist Johannes Reuchlin, and selected prose of Heinrich von Kleist. He's currently working on an anthology of the dark side of German imaginative writing "at the crossroads of the Götterdämmerung and the twilight zone of the American Dream".

And just a skip away, the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin (Am Sandwerder 5) brings us Stefan Weidner on the subject of "Translating the Untranslatable" - in this case the Qur'an. Weidner is a translator from Arabic to German, a literary critic and a writer on the subject of Islam. The event is the closing public seminar of his tenure as August Wilhelm von Schlegel Guest Professor of the Poetics of Translation, and promises to be rather hands-on, "investigating with the audience how existing Qur'an translations have dealt with the allegedly or actually untranslatable, what alternatives exist and how far the translator's creativity may go."

So, take your pick. For the undecided, I suggest comparing the two photos behind the links and selecting which face you'd rather gaze into for an hour and a half. I'll be the one imitating that lecture scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

*Actually, you'd be a fool to wait an eternity for a 207, because you could just hop on a 407 or an 83 or a 607 instead. Because the Uxbridge Road is Europe's most frequently served bus route. But you know what I mean.

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