Wednesday, 7 August 2013

BCLT Summer School Presents... Daniela Dröscher in English

I mentioned I led a workshop at the BCLT's literary translation summer school, working with a group of translators and German writer Daniela Dröscher. And now you can read the end products online, at There are three extracts from two novels: Die Lichter des George Psalmanazar and Pola.

Each extract presented its own set of problems. Pola, for instance, has a subtly arch tone and shifts perspective a great deal, with its Hollywood heroine's gaze watching others watch her. The first passage from Die Lichter... is very lyrical and proved tricky to understand at some points, surprisingly so for the opening of a novel. And the second extract from the book features reported speech by Samuel Johnson, of all people - no easy task to recreate in English. I was pleased that the translators did a great deal of research, working with historical texts, linguistic corpora, film clips and other documents.

Both novels take real historical individuals as the basis for fictional stories; they're not historical novels at all. But Dröscher does use language fitting to her characters, and that was what made translating her work most difficult. I think the summer school participants have stepped up to the challenge and produced some very impressive pieces of writing. Do take a look.

Many thanks to all the translators for making my work so stimulating and to Daniela for all her input.

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