The Tasks of This Translator


I read a fabulous book of short stories by an author named Todd Hasak-Lowy a few months ago. Entitled The Task of This Translator, Hasak-Lowy used the art / task of translation to craft fabulously interesting and creative stories. His imagination runs deep, creativity strong and descriptions are effective and profound. A strength of the collection is he takes a liberal approach to the term translation, applying it to a multitude of fascinating situations. I haven't much critiqued literature, and the book wasn't a recent read, but I highly recommend it for its creativity, thoughtful prose, ingenuity and fresh style.

I had this on my mind today, as Hasak Lowy beautifully entails the delicacy one must take when translating. I too took on the task of translating today at the Gallery, and the focus necessary and intricacies implied to it are endless. The task was simple, to translate a short biography of an artist named Max Neumann. But with the the possibility of my work reaching a far audience, the responsibility was large. Translation is difficult because you don't know when you translate the word on its own, or when you translate the phrase. I felt responsable in part for Neumann's career, and what our English speaking visitors thought of him. That's the task of the translator - to take something as it is (in a certain language) and render it completely different (by changing the language) while not changing a thing (the meaning). It was a great exercise and I'm glad to have done it once I got the sweat stains wiped off my shirt (with great responsibility comes great perspiration). It is interesting that it took a specific exercise like this to make me think of translation. Usually, it is just French, that is my life now, but with responsibility, it was a whole new ball game. And I learned about a new cool artists!

Back in the modern art and modern literature.