We're delighted to announce that we'll be publishing a special issue in Spring/Summer 2022 focusing on Taiwan fiction and poetry. For this issue, we're teaming up with the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing, with the generous support of Spotlight Taiwan.
The difference between writing and translation is that in writing, the membrane stands between a single personal, mental world and the culture at large. In the case of translation, the membrane is between the Russian cultural world, for which the story was written, and the target culture.
Leśmian’s poetry has been described as virtually untranslatable on account of his use of Polish words and phrases which cannot be translated into English in such as way as to accurately convey the power and the imagery of the original.
As someone who thinks of myself primarily as a writer, I first became interested in translation three years ago when I started working on a novel inspired by the tropes of wuxia (martial arts fantasy) fiction in English.
Umberto Eco once pessimistically said that “translation is the art of failure”. In contrast, I say that this precious craft is the art of success because without literary translation, we are all separate dots in an ocean of failures.
Short stories tend to have much shorter lifespans than novels do. As such, a translation is a form of reincarnation. The end result is the same story, but also a completely different one at the same time. The first level of changes is due to the different language operating under another structure, a different set of ties binding the abstract with the specific. But there's also the second level, a more intimate level where the story surreptitiously obtains new properties after it’s been processed through the mind of the translator.
I got into translation for the same reason many people get into blogging, writing reviews, and other fannish activities: I loved certain stories and felt the strong desire to share them with my friends. Except many of my genre-reading friends do not speak Russian. And while I'm not a reviewer and am a lazy blogger at best, in this case I had, ahem, a particular set of skills…