Yesterday we talked at some length about methods of reading, preparing a text, working with authors, and revising. It is sometimes said that translators can’t do anything about the plot of the works they translate, but this seems to me an oversimplification and not really correct, because the effectiveness of the plot is always dependent on pace, and pace is a function of language at the level of phrase, sentence, and paragraph, which is what translators have control over. They can easily make a plot ineffective, so the obverse must also be true. Our conversation reminded of Amy Leach’s discussion of “exhilirated intermediaries,” which at times seems apt here.
Valentino also mentions the the sessions where writers are visited by their translators, among them translator into German Beatrice Fassbinder visiting Jeffrey Yang, whom she’s translating. In addition to being a poet and translator (most recently of June Fourth Elegies 念念六四 by Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波), Yang is my New Directions editor for my translations of Xi Chuan in Notes on the Mosquito.