An Interview with Translator Susan Bernofsky

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An Interview with Translator Susan Bernofsky

Robert Walser's The Tanners, translated by Susan Bernofsky, will be published in August. Bernofsky is hailed as one of the finest English translators of German literature today. In a recent interview, Bernofsky says that "most of the authors I've spent the most time working on ... are concerned with the plasticity of language. They use idiosyncratic ways of talking about things to create a fictional universe." Bernofsky observes that she is curious whether translation can be easier if the translator shares a sensibility with an author. Her writings about translation frequently perceive a link between current translation theory and ideas in Romantic philosophy. "The German Romantic translation theorists ... were deeply concerned with the connection between a language and a nation or people, and so to them translating in such a way as to respect and preserve the cultural characteristics of the language you're translating from is an important first step in getting to know another culture and its people in a respectful way," she says. "A lot of translation theorists and cultural critics today are interested in the dichotomy between translation as assimilation and as an avenue for approaching the foreign with genuine openness and curiosity."

From "Susan Bernofsky with Jed Lipinski"
Brooklyn Rail (NY) (08/09) Lipinski, Jed

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - July 2009


 

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