Through out the course of time I have explored novels that were translated into English from different languages, authors, genres and cultures. Each had their own charm to them, and some went beyond what I thought any novel could be. At the beginning, I thought translating one piece of literature from one language to another was as easy as translating word for word.
After reading “19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei,” a book dedicated to looking at the poem of Wang Wei that is only 4 lines, and 20 characters. As the title of the book suggests, there are 19+ ways people have translated this piece. Which should be mind blowing! After reading and finding out more about the author and how others chose to translate his poem, I realized that it is not only an interpretation of the individual translating it, it is also about where that individual comes from. It’s moving from one culture to another. All that needs to remain is the meaning, sound, sense and the concrete ideas of the piece.
Interesting genre I explored were science fiction (utopia), African fiction (baho!), and Mexican fiction (signs…). Each had their own appeal to them that made me further think about translation. “Baho!” for example, it really was not about the plot, it was more about the themes the author tried to portray (miscommunication, justice). The same could be said about Tram 83, it felt more like a long never ending song, about two friends who were not in good terms but still ended up together. The two books that had more of an impact on me, were Utopia and Signs… Utopia because of the science fiction themes and the reality of it, the possibility of it happening. Signs… well I am a Mexican, and once again, the reality of the theme of the book spoke to me.
Overall, I have a bigger appreciation for translated works now! There is so much thought that goes into translating it. The author and the translator constantly having to communicate because of a single word that is crucial. Should it be translated this way, or that way? Which one will have a better impact or closer meaning to what the author intentionally intended? As I mentioned, I am Mexican and I have to constantly translate paperwork for whoever needs it in my family. it is difficult, but now knowing what i know from this course, it has become a little bit easier. Just translate it and interpret it in my own way, but keep the message intact.