Friday, 27 June 2008

New German Writers (and Martin Chalmers)

I've just printed off the first four entries for the Bachmann Prize, translated into English by Martin Chalmers and my mate Stefan Tobler. I shall now retire to a horizontal position and read them all. More later.

Incidentally, in case you remember Nicholas Spice's head-bashing condemnation of Martin Chalmers' Greed translation in the London Review of Books, the publishers have replied in kind. Pete Ayrton of Serpent's Tail writes:

As Spice himself notes, Gier ‘poses almost insuperable obstacles to good translation’ but this does not hold him back from claiming that Chalmers’s translation is so bad that ‘it would have been better to have left the novel untranslated.’ For sure, Jelinek’s quest to match form to the misogynist content makes for a difficult read but the difficulty is already there in the German original. Rather than allow Spice to suggest that a book were best left untranslated, the editors of the LRB should pay more attention to reviewing fiction in translation.

He gets a bit nastier after that too, but who can blame him?

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