In April of this year, a group of the UK’s most promising young translators gathered at Magdalene College, Cambridge. They had all been selected to take part in ‘Trends in Translation’, a programme organised by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Embassy in London, the Institut français du Royaume-Uni and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), in cooperation with the University of Cambridge. The participants, all undergraduates studying German or French, took part in a masterclass with award-winning translators Shaun Whiteside and Frank Wynne, alongside publisher Jacques Testard. The project was supported by the Franco-German Cultural Fund.
Two of the masterclass participants were awarded the final prize. Adam Hill (Cambridge, German) and James William Keighley (Leeds, French) will go on a one-day funded trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2017.
Here Adam shares his experience of the masterclass:
I applied for the masterclass in the hope of coupling a theoretical understanding of translation, which had been part of my degree, with a more practical insight into literary translation as a potential career. The day provided me with a great introduction to an industry that I had previously known very little about and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In the morning session Shaun Whiteside and Frank Wynne painted an entertaining picture of how they had come to be translators and what their work involved, passing on a wealth of tips. In the afternoon we took part in a translation workshop, tackling an extract from Juliana Kálnay’s new novel Eine kurze Chronik des allmählichen Verschwindens. The text was linguistically challenging because of its thematic quirks, such as a particular character having morphed into a tree. The exercise highlighted the rarity of two people or two groups producing identical translations of the same sentence, as well as how slight differences in translation can provoke lively discussion!
The groups then came back together for an engaging talk by Jacques Testard, which centred on his publishing house Fitzcarraldo Editions and magazine The White Review. This successfully put the practice of translation into its wider context. The day ended with a tour of Magdalene College and a dinner.
Having worked in publishing in Berlin for a year, I am now very keen to explore a career in translation: I look forward to the Frankfurt Book Fair courtesy of ‘Trends in Translation’, and hope to attend a translation summer school next year.
Read Adam's winning translation from Juliana Kálnay's novel Eine kurze Chronik des allmählichen Verschwindens (Wagenbach Verlag, reviewed in NBG Spring 2017):
Third floor, on the left: Jam
So I always take the fruits that are nearly ripe, like these ones here. But just not quite fully. I fill the whole basket up. How good that he has borne so much fruit recently. It’s unbelievable how fast they are growing back at the moment. Do you think it signifies something? After all, I always do need more jam, it goes so quickly, so it’s clear he wants to help me out however he can, the good fellow.
I remove the fruit’s stalks and the leaves, clean them well and then peel them, I cut them into small pieces, pass me the knife would you, no, the one up there. And the cores, they’re removed of course. You did want them, right? So I am going to put them aside for you as you asked. What for though? Oh forget it, I’d rather just not know. The mischief you sometimes get up to makes my blood run cold. And no, why should it be the same thing. Everyone likes my jam. Even chronic insomniacs, and you know how critical they usually are. What’s so blood-curdling about that? Oh come off it, you’re always seeing strange connections between things. And no, I’m not just saying that on a whim.
By Juliana Kálnay, translated by Adam Hill