Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Pointless Website, Interesting Insight

Cornelia Funke is not our favourite German children's writer, but she's up there somewhere. And one of my Secret Informers has sent me an interesting link concerning her choice of reading matter.

It's tucked away on one of the most pointless websites I've ever come across - bar this one, perhaps, which is a lot more satisfying. The site in question is the FAZ Leseinsel. All manner of writers and the like share inanities on their reading habits in a completely annoying "hand-written" format, overlaid on an eerily shifting map of the world. It seems to be for adults - kids would probably spurn such a stupid format right away.

Anyway, in this case, Cornelia Funke does say something pretty interesting after all (albeit not until you've clicked through a three-page description of her garden). I'll just rip it off and hope they don't sue me, shall I?

Q: What book would you most like to read right now?
A: ...If you want a title, it'd have to be The Undiscovered Chekhov. Thirty-Eight New Stories
translated by Peter Constantine. The translator gave me a copy after taking part in a translation workshop with me and my brilliant translator Anthea Bell, organised by the Goethe-Institut in Chicago. I've already read two stories, and they were hard to top for exquisiteness...

Now isn't that nice? She mentions two translators in one fell swoop. No need to introduce you to Anthea "Queen of German translation" Bell, I suspect. But I have to add something about the amazing polyglott Peter Constantine. He's translated from German, Russian, French, Modern Greek, Ancient Greek, Italian, Albanian, Dutch, Slovene and Friesian, ranging from Thomas Mann to the young upstart Benjamin Lebert - the book that netted him the Wolff Translation Prize last year. That's not the only prize weighing down his shelves, mind you - he's won four or five others too. And he's such a huge honey that he was even prepared to appear in one of our Translators Reveal All events just out of the sweetness of his heart, but unfortunately he was prevented by force majeure.

I wonder if he just plucked a random book of his off the shelves before setting off to the workshop, or really thought long and hard about what to give to Cornelia Funke. Seems like it was a good choice, however it came about.

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