Rewriting in translation

I thought I’d share an interesting quote from Melissa Bull on translation with you. It’s taken from a subTerrain magazine article called “Nelly Arcan, Poetry, and the Quiddity of Québécois culture” (not available online).

“In translation there are so many moments of, ‘Oh, I see what you’re doing here.’ You definitely get past the reader experience and you sidle along beside the author in their work. It is a kind of rewriting, in a sense. French and English are both my mother tongues, so when I’m translating, especially in my first draft, part of me feels I’m just saying the same thing twice.”

Food for thought, right? For me, this has never crossed my mind. Every sentence I write preoccupies me with how far away from the original I might have strayed.

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