Tuesday, August 30, 2016


 Below you will find that Scott Abbott is quite harsh on Winston. I ctd. to enjoy reading her translation, but find that if  i want to quibble i might change one or two sentences on the page; and overall I don't find her work flaccid.
Her problems arise when she has to solve difficult challenges, where she can fail badly as Scott has noted, as have I, in significant instances, which leads me to think on my conclusion about Ms. Winston as an advisor to FSG on what and what not to publish of Handke's 

where I find her intellectually not up to snuff, as I did not when she refused some years ago to engage in  a discussion on her dislike of Handke's actions in the Yugoslavia controversy. My original estimate below still holds. 

Part of the problem also is that translations on this order of difficulty ought to age for a while, cure, giving translators and their ediors time to regard it once or twice more after the work has been given that kind of rest, an impossibility under current commercial condistions. Have the translations double checked by a sympathetic other tranlator, there are bound to be slipups, opportunities for improvement especially in works of great length that make a high demand on the translator. Truism I know, but how to  even achieve these truisms!

"Krishna Winston's translation of Handke's major texts, as compare to Ralph Mannheim's have given me as much, that is identical pleasure to the originals, and I cannot think of higher praise, for this evaluative experiential approach obviates the inevitable miseries that attend the workings of the gloomy grammarians as well as of  nit-picking analists!  MICHAEL ROLOFF, August 2016

There is a significant mis-translation  on page 118 of the U.S edition/ p.218 Germant where Entrueckung is translated as "reverie" and Entrueckingszustaende” as „fuguing” where the mystical "rapture" is called for.  „Reverie” makes no sense as you read the page-length continuity of this elaboration and is the kind of thing an editor who at the very least is familiar with Handke ought to have caught – Handke may be mystical on occasion but he always makes sense,  also within his aesthetics and their logic. 

The passage in question reads „It was an internal danger, and by remaiing conscious of it as a constant threat,  his constant threat, he would perhaps receive a stronger impetus, an equally hearty incentive to keep going. And what was this internal danger? It was as he spelled out for the rest of us , the danger of fallinng into a reverie, sometihng that happened to him from time to time ? And what was so dangerous about that? It was dangerous in two respects: first because by now he could almost, but fortunatly only almost, summon these reveries at will. The far greater danger, the real one, was that in such fugue  states the world showed itself to him on the one hand  as it never did otherwise, even approximatly  - as whole, as a whole – but on the other hand nothing more could be said about it.

The German on its page 218 has „Entrueckheit”: & Entruckungzustaende

What Handke, in this very personal moment, describes, is technically speaking a "disassociation" of a schizo or as Freud so well preferred to call it "paraphrenic" kind whence Handke has these "hic nunc" moments, although here he describes it as the world "being whole." Rapture – the brain is swamped with opiods “Ah, beautiful world.” And momentarily you forget about its past future and presently on-going horrors.

Since we know as of the Gantscher interview, to which Scott Abbot has called attention, that Handke feels he is visited [i dont want to use the word "suffer" but remain descriptive] of autistic episodes – to which  these raptures are/ may be ?? related or are synonimous, “revery” also leads into the entirely wrong passive  direction. Reverienglike a radar is what an analyst does in catching a moment in which to alert an analyzand.

Krishna Winston adds insult to injury by mis-using and translating “Entrueckungszustaende” [states of rapture  -or being “enraptured” - as “fuguing” . "Fugue" is a technical term for a stormy up and down state of mind that can be controlled by lithium and other mood stabilizers and is entirely the inappropriate term in this context which has alterations but not of a stormy or rapid or violent kind. However, “fugueing” describes what Handke experienced, progressivel more violently, until a panic attack landed him in a hospital, in the three long poems in NONSENSE AND HAPPINESS. Don't think it would have helped him at the time to be told that his "stormy" feelings couid also be called fugues! Valium eventually did the trick of controlling the panic.



in krishna winston's translation our darling author has some pheasants early in chapter five 283/4 rumoring around the treetops of his germanische foret. and it surprises me that the great walker has not nearly stepped and been terrified as these groundbirds flutter up shrieking, the sort of thing that you ought to know as well, if you recall your fontane. i FLUSH them out at our reconstituting prairie, a square mile between the horticultural center, near which i reside, and the university's athletic fields, and each time i do it is near heart attack time, though not as terrifyng the time i nearly stepped on a huge mulie whom i had been stalking in the sacramentoes in billy the kid country and he leapt up and there we were eye to eye. i think also in REGLE DE JEU the aristocratic hunters flush not just hares during the fall hare hunt, but ground birds.
what may be rumoring in the harz tree tops in chapter five are perhaps AUERHAHN, a cousin of sorts to the American grouse. as a geological surveyor in alaska in 1960 i used to go hunt for grouse after work. they are way up in the trees, feathery clumps, that move from tree to tree and are difficult to spot but are the best tasting meat in the world because they have been feeding chiefly on berries all summer and fall. in winter there are ptarmigan, that is a ground bird. waiddmanheil  to you all!

however, if you look at the original german  
 it is krishna who puts the pheasant up in the tree tops in the translation, whereas it remains indefinite where they are in the german on page 283/4.
we will take krishna on a hunting trip to alaska, show her some bear scat, have her wrestle a grizzly, then preare a hair piece for her, and feed her some delicious grouse!
 x mr


Why are the books not attracting larger audiences? For one thing, they are not being written by the journalist and creative-writing expert Melchior whose facile denunciation of poetic literature features so prominently in The Moravian Night. Another answer may lie in the American translations.
That day in Chaville Handke handed me a manuscript of the American translation of Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht (My Year in the No-Man’s-Bay) and asked for an evaluation. I read a few pages and then pointed out an early sentence that, in the original, ended with “. . . an der Stelle des zwischendurch mich weiterwürgenden ‘Ende’ das Ding Verwandlung.” The translation rendered this as “. . . the ‘end’ that still gagged me now and then was more and more firmly replaced by this metamorphosis thing.” With the throwaway silliness of “this metamorphosis thing,” I told Handke, “Das Ding Verwandlung” (the thing that is metamorphosis) has lost its philosophical tension. And
the carefully wrought, eleven-word original phrase has been bloated to nineteen flaccid words. Your sentences have been flattened, the nuance is gone. How is it possible, I asked, that an editor with Straus’ reputation has no idea what this translation will do to your work?
Translation is risky business, a largely thankless enterprise. Even the best translators make mistakes. Ralph Manheim, for instance, who became the primary translator of Handke’s works after Michael Roloff’s translations of early poetry, plays, and the novel The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, misread the word “Feind” (enemy) as “Freund” (friend) near the beginning of Handke’s novel Repetition. (Nathanial Davis noted the mistake while translating W. G. Sebald’s essay “Across the Border: Peter Handke’s Repetition.”) When Manheim died, Krishna Winston stepped in to translate the third of the essays published as The Jukebox & Other Essays on Storytelling and she has, in sequence, translated Handke’s My Year in the No-Man’s BayOn a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, Don Juan, and now The Moravian Night (while also translating work by Günter Grass, Werner Herzog, and others). Weighing every word and every sentence that comprise the pages of these substantial and demanding works, she has brought into English some of the most important prose written in the last twenty years. The results are mixed, at best.
donjuanIn his 2010 New York Times review of Don Juan, Joel Agee wrote that “Krishna Winston’s translation faithfully conveys what is said, but she tends to simplify and generalize how it is said. This is not a trivial subtraction. Like God and the Devil, Don Juan is in the details.” When the subject of a work is language, when the form of its sentences is the work’s content, when the possibilities of perception as mediated through and affected by language is a theme, simplification and generalization are death-dealing. Agee gave no examples of what he meant. At the risk of alienating readers who will be well rewarded by reading this translation despite its problems, I will point out several troubling passages. Much of Winson’s translation conveys the meaning of the original dutifully and sometimes it does so delightfully. Too often it leaves me scratching my head.
First, a sentence about the experience of time that is all but incomprehensible in the English translation, although it makes clear sense in German:
“Die Sekunden, die sowohl das Zweite, das Folgende bedeuteten als auch das Primäre, das Vorausgegangene; die das Vorausgegangene und das Folgende in sich vereinten.“
In Winston’s translation:
“The seconds that mean both what comes after something, what follows it, as well as the primary thing, the thing that precedes it, that combines what precedes and what follows.”
The translation pays no attention to the semi-colon of the original, and as a consequence misses the fact that it is the seconds “that combined” in the final phrase, not the thing “that combines.” It also misses the past tense, appropriate here as what is called narrative past in German. Here a translation that makes more sense:
“The seconds that meant both the secondary, what follows, as well as the primary, what precedes; that united what precedes and what follows in themselves.”
wenderswrongmoveSentences often lose their muscular shape in Winston’s translation. Compare this sentence of ten words that expands to eighteen in the English: “Dazu paßte, daß er in eine mir vertraute Spielhalle verschwand.” The translation: “What seemed to confirm this supposition was that he disappeared into an arcade with which I was familiar.” With a little attention to the spare nature of the original (a single prepositional phrase, no passive “to be,” no reference to a supposition), a better translation would be: “No surprise that he disappeared into a familiar arcade.” Handke’s sentences can be long and they are often complicated. They are never flabby. The translation is replete with sentences that feel like early drafts.
There are simple mistakes. This sentence, for instance, about the threatened violence at the cemetery visited by the bus-riding pilgrims and the military police there to protect them: “Die Ansammlung da blieb in Distanz ohne eine gezogene Waffe.” Translation: “The gathering kept its distance without even one weapon’s being drawn.” The ‘s is a simple typo that a good copyeditor should have caught. And why not translate the sentence more directly as “The crowd kept its distance with no weapon drawn”?
A more serious problem appears a few pages later when people lining the road begin to throw rocks at the bus:
Dazu ließ der Fahrer, der, so als sei nichts, das Fenster zu seiner Seite aufgeklappt hatte, inzwischen Musik hinausschallen, eine laute, die freilich, ganz unbalkanisch, wie sie war, ohne Harmonika-Klirren und Kurzrohrtrompeten-Schmettern, niemand provozieren konnte—es waren die weithin hallenden Gitarren des Instrumentalstücks „Apache“. . . .
The translation:
In addition, the driver, who had cranked up the window on his side as if for no particular reason, now turned on music, loud, completely un-Balkan music, without rattling harmonicas or short-tube trumpet blasts, music that could not possibly provoke anyone; instead it was the long-distance echoing guitars from the “Apache” instrumental piece. . .
The first problem is with “In addition.” The driver’s action is no addition to the silent, rock-throwing crowds but a response to them. “Response” is a good translation of “Dazu” (as would be “in addition” in another context). Because she understands the word “aufgeklappt” as shutting the window, Winston misses the fact that the bus driver is blaring the aggressive rock music out of his window in response to the attack. The word “aufklappen” can mean “to fold up,” which may explain the mistake, but in this case it means to open. That misunderstanding leads her to settle for simply turning on the loud music rather than blaring it out. The “long-distance echoing guitars” make only awkward sense of “weithin hallenden Gitarren.” A reader would be better served by “it was the guitars of the ‘Apache’ instrumental resounding into the distance. . . .” And finally, because of its common use in Balkan music, flugelhorn is a better translation than the too literal rendering of the German “short-tube trumpet.”
asorrowbeyonddreamsHandke is precise in his word choice, and repeated words bear close scrutiny by a reader intent on understanding him. A translation should preserve such repetitions. This one often fails to do so. For example, the former writer describes a state he falls into now and then, a state he can almost summon at will, a state in which the silent world shows itself to him as a whole, a seductive and dangerous state that cannot be described. The word used repeatedly for this state of being is “Entrückt” (past participle) or “Entrücktheit” (noun) and it appears in at least five important parts of the novel. The verbs are translated as “carried away” or as “transported.” The nouns become rapture, reverie, fugue state, and rapture again. While “reverie” and “rapture” are possibilities, the specificity of “fugue state” is a clear overreach. For the nouns I would use rapture rather than reverie, which is much too passive for the experience. And for the verbs, either carried away or transported, but not both. Another example of varying terms for a single word—this one a mistake that shows a simple lack of concentration—has a character throwing “darts” at a dartboard, but later we are told that “the arrows did not stick.” Arrows?
Finally, an example of an especially troubling paragraph, a beautiful description of a mountainous border crossing the former writer knows through his mother’s stories. In her telling, there were “huckleberry bushes wet with dew.” The “Heidelbeeren” in the Harz Mountains are Vaccinium myrtillis. Huckleberries, if they are a species of the Vacciniumfamily, appear only in the American west. Blueberries would be a better choice here. In memory, the former writer sees his mother with her dew-softened cardboard suitcases and smells what the translation calls “pine pitch.” These are fir trees and “resin” would be more correct. He hears, in the translation, “a plane’s engine”; the German describes a “Fahrzeuggeräusch,“ the sound of a vehicle. He hears a cry he identifies as a pheasant. A semi-colon follows, but the translator ignores it to place the pheasant “rustling high up in the crown of the pines.” The rustling, or better “soughing,” is not the sound of the pheasant but of the tops of the firs. That comforting sound creates the illusion that she is safely beyond borders, and then “at home, near a village,” as the translation says, “near a village” being a rendering of “in Dorfnähe.“ The sentence moves his mother ever closer to the safety of home, but ending it with “near a village” is an afterthought. “Comforted by the village” would be a less literal but more thoughtful end to the sentence and it repeats an early deliberation on closeness, familiarity, and the close horizons of village life.
This novel deserves a more accurate and more nuanced translation. Having said that, I will add that The Moravian Night deserves readers like the young woman on the train. They should be solemn readers, concentrated readers, readers who can grin at the former author’s attempts to get things right (“or better said”), who can smile at his self questioning (“A solemnity that radiated—really? Yes, Mr. Know-It-All.”), who are astonished, surprised readers opened and made beautiful by the book. In The Moravian Night, passages of lyrical beauty alternate with, or better said, are themselves profound explorations of the possibilities of narration, of perception refined through language and of language transformed by perception. Through his meticulous and searching and sometimes inspired storytelling over the course of the night on the Morava, the former writer transforms himself and, the narrator reports, becomes “the writer” once again. Reading Peter Handke’s novel, I have become a reader again, am grateful to be his reader.

Friday, July 29, 2016


I recall that as member of the PEN's TRANSLATION COMMITTEE the eye-opener what a the dreadful fusspots translators can be especially as a congregation. Fellow publisher Helen Wolf and I looking at each other, despair setting in, when during the third meeting to finalize the committee's statement of purpose they could not agree on the frigging commatization! See below my comments on text that are allegedly prize or support worthy. x michael r.

On Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 12:16 PM, PEN Literary Awards <awards@pen.org>wrote:
Over $50,000 disbursed among 14 projects

Announcing PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant Winners

PEN America is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants. The Translation Fund, now celebrating its thirteenth year, received a large number of applications this year—171 total—spanning a wide array of languages of origin, genres, and eras. From this vast field of applicants, the Fund’s Advisory Board—Esther Allen, Peter Blackstock, Sara Khalili, Tynan Kogane, Allison Markin Powell, Antonio Romani, Chip Rossetti, and Alex Zucker—has selected fourteen projects, spanning 9 different languages, including Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, Chinese, Czech, Hindi, Yiddish and more.
Each project will receive a grant of $3,670 to assist in their completion. More information on each of the fourteen grantees and brief excerpts of their translations can be found below. Longer excerpts of their grant-winning projects can be found in our 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Series.
Gabriel Amor for his translation of Juana I by Ana Azourmanian. "What I need is a mouth," begins this poem cycle, voiced by the woman who held the title of Queen of Castile from 1504 to 1555. This work, by an Argentine poet, attorney, and legal scholar, seeks justice, not only for its imprisoned narrator, known as "La Loca" and ruled insane as a matter of political expedience, but for the millions of victims of the genocidal empire she putatively reigned over. (Available for publication)

            What I need is a mouth.

            I need a mouth the enamel of teeth your saliva.

            Blood stops flowing to your lips.

            I kiss the air, the locks of hair, the Virgin Mary.

            I run ropes through the gates of your body. I pull on a
      rope to open your pupils and let in the light.

            She is mad.

            They murmur among themselves.

            I clean you. Licking muscle joined to bone joined to skin.

            I want what I want what everyone calls god for me
                 a mouth.


Ellen Cassedy for her strong translation of On the Landing: Selected Stories by Yenta Mash, a vivid and often humorous portrayal of Jewish and non-Jewish life in three very different 20th-century societies: Bessarabia (Moldova), the Soviet Union, and Israel. Cassedy’s is the first Yiddish project to receive support from the PEN/Heim Translation Fund. (Available for publication)
Outside it was pitch black. The streetlights had been turned off in advance. All was still as a grave. Not a creature was about. Only the wagon, waiting in front of the house. The chief secured their door with a padlock, put the key in his pocket, and signaled to the peasant driver to get moving. When they reached the bridge, silhouettes of other wagons began to emerge from the darkness, all moving in the same direction. Apparently they were not the only ones.

Chris Clarke for his translation of Imaginary Lives by Marcel Schwob, a collection of vastly entertaining biographical tales first published in 1895. Featuring the famous, the infamous, the unknown and even the fictional, from the pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles to the notorious 19th-century Irish murderers William Burke and William Hare, these 23 tales, by a writer associated with the French Symbolist movement, evince a decided penchant for the dark and the decadent. (Forthcoming from Wakefield Press)
The art of the biographer consists specifically in choice. He is not meant to worry about speaking truth; he must create human characteristics amidst the chaos. Leibniz said that in making the world, God chose the best of all possibilities. The biographer, like some lesser deity, understands how to choose among possible humans the man who is unique. Their tales are to be found in the chronicles, in memoirs, in correspondence and annotations. In the middle of this crude assemblage, the biographer culls enough material to be able to compose a form that resembles no other. It isn’t necessary that it be the same as that which was already created before, by a greater god, only that it is unique, like all other creations.

Sharon Dolin for her translation of the award-winning Book of Minutes by Gemma Gorga, one of the most celebrated contemporary poets writing in Catalan. Dolin, with her exquisite and elegant translation, introduces to us this captivating collection of sixty prose poems that, in her words, enthrall with the enigmatic, oneiric beauty of the miniature. (Available for publication)
[Small, hollow, metal sphere]
"Small, hollow, metal sphere with a little ball inside that causes it to resonate at the slightest movement." Like any other book, the dictionary is also written in the first person singular. Each page about me, every word written, thinking of me—a definition for the indefinite, order for the disorder. I understood it while reading the entry for jingle-bell, and the entire universe was resonating inside me like a little ball, as if I, too, were a metal sphere. Bright and hollow.

Kaiama L. Glover for her translation of Hadriana in All My Dreams by René Depestre, a prizewinning work of social satire. Written while the author was in exile and inspired by childhood memories of the village where he grew up, this classic of the Haitian literary tradition enchants the reader with the marvelous reality of Vodou culture, retelling the story of a beautiful young French girl who is transformed into a zombie on her wedding day. (Forthcoming from Akashic Books)
I died on the night of the most beautiful day of my life: I died on the night of my marriage in the church of Saint Philippe and Saint Jacques. Everyone thought I had been struck down by the sacramental Yes that burst out of me. They claimed I was swept away by the fire of my consent, overcome by the depth of its power and truth – that I was done in by my own bridal passion. Truth be told, my false death had begun half an hour before I cried out in the church.

Anita Gopalan for her translation of Simsim by Geet Chaturvedi. First published in 2008, this lyrical, award-winning novella was recognized for its groundbreaking contribution to contemporary Hindi fiction. Focused on four central characters and a decaying library sitting on prime Mumbai real estate, Simsim narrates the clash between two Indias—one old and traditional, and the other driven by consumerism and corporate greed. (Available for publication)
When softcopies could be created and kept in just a few DVDs, why let books occupy so much space? I wondered. During the old man’s absence, did these books move out of their places? Did they still wear their bindings and book covers, or wriggle out of them and like house sparrows flap and shake dust and termites off their bodies? Did they also dance to the tune of mourning? To the beats of despair? To the combined rhythm of insult and neglect?

Amanda Lee Koe for her translation of Ten Years of Marriage by Su Qing, seen as the ‘sovereign’ of the sorely overlooked movement of "Missy Writers" in mid-century Chinese literary modernism. The novel mixes autobiography and fiction, tracing the rites of passage of a young woman from marriage to motherhood to unhappy domestic life; its portrayal of female sexuality and commentary on the restrictive social conventions of the era made it a runaway bestseller when it was published in the 1940s. (Available for publication)
Of course Mother assumed I was a virgin. She insisted I ride the flower sedan, that I was not to miss out on a prerogative so cherished. I thought that riding a flower sedan to the YMCA, where we were to be wed, was outlandish. But it was an awkward subject to bring up, for Mother would then be sure to jump to the conclusion that I had a stain upon my conscience and feared repercussions from the sedan deity. So it was that all went as per their wishes.



Thursday, June 4, 2015

… übersetzt von Peter Handke“

… übersetzt von Peter Handke“ am INTRAWI


Vom 28. bis 30.5.2015 fand am Institut für Translationswissenschaft (INTRAWI) unter der Ägide der beiden umsichtigen Organisatoren Fabjan Hafner (Robert-Musil-Institut für Literaturforschung, Universität Klagenfurt) und Wolfgang Pöckl (INTRAWI, Universität Innsbruck) die Tagung „… übersetzt von Peter Handke“ statt.

Fabjan Hafner in lebhafter Interaktion mit dem Publikum bei seinem Eröffnungsvortrag. (Foto: Martina Mayer)

Diese Veranstaltung darf getrost als einzigartig bezeichnet werden, weil Handkes umfangreiches übersetzerisches Œuvre bisher nur wenig Betrachtung in der wissenschaftlichen Diskussion fand. In den facettenreichen Vorträgen der hochkarätigen internationalen Experten wurde der Übersetzer Handke nun eindrucksvoll porträtiert.
Fabjan Hafner eröffnete die Tagung mit einem Vortrag über Peter Handke als schreibenden Übersetzer – eine Rollenzuschreibung, die auf den ersten Blick erstaunlich anmuten mag, vom Vortragenden jedoch eloquent vermittelt und als ein Phänomen der „Beidhändigkeit“ bezeichnet wurde. Die Archivarin Vanessa Hannesschläger (Wien) analysierte in akribischer Detektivarbeit Handkes Vorgehensweise bei seinen Übersetzungen Prometheus, gefesselt (1985), Ödipus in Kolonos (2002) und Helena(2009) aus dem Altgriechischen. Im Anschluss wandte sich die klassische Philologin und Germanistin Bettina Feuchtenhofer (Wien) Handkes Übersetzungen des Aischylos und des Sophokles zu. Sie zeigte Handkes zwar ausgeprägte, aber doch nicht immer konsistente Liebe zum Detail in der Übersetzung dieser antiken Dramatiker auf. Die Reihe der Vorträge über Peter Handkes Übersetzungen aus dem Altgriechischen wurde von Oswald Panagl (Salzburg), Professor emeritus für historisch-vergleichende und allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, beschlossen. Er beleuchtete Handkes Beziehung zu sowie seinen Umgang mit den antiken Autoren und bot damit einen Einblick in Handkes Reflexion über den eigenen Schaffensprozess, wodurch die beiden vorangegangenen Beiträge aufs Beste umrahmt wurden. Handkes Übersetzungen aus dem Altgriechischen folgte eine Schwerpunktverlagerung hin zum Slawischen und Englischen, die von der freien Übersetzerin und Publizistin Urška Černe (Maribor) eingeleitet wurde.
Das interessierte Publikum bei der Tagungseröffnung. (Foto: Martina Mayer)
Das interessierte Publikum bei der Tagungseröffnung. (Foto: Martina Mayer)
Sie behandelte Handkes zweites Übersetzungsprojekt, die Tandemübersetzung des Romans Zmote Dijaka Tjaža (Der Zögling Tjaž) von Florjan Lipuš in Zusammenarbeit mit seiner Slowenischlehrerin Helga Mračnikar. Diese war übrigens eigens zur Tagung angereist und gewährte im anschließenden Gespräch mit Fabjan Hafner Einblicke in die genaue Vorgehensweise Handkes, in seinen „Entzifferungsprozess“, den sie als Methode seiner übersetzerischen Praxis kennengelernt hatte. Die Übersetzerin und Konferenzdolmetscherin Marija Dabič (Innsbruck/Wien) fokussierte in ihrem Vortrag Handkes Übersetzungen der zwei Gedichte Možda spava (Vielleicht schläft sie) von Vladislav Petković („Dis“) und Slepi Putnici (Blinde Passagiere) von Zoran Bognar aus dem Serbischen, die in Zusammenarbeit mit Žarko Radaković entstanden sind. Hierbei ging es nicht um das Übersetzen der Werke aus der serbischen Sprache in die deutsche, sondern um das Übersetzen der serbischen Kultur. Anhand Handkes Übersetzung von Shakespeares The Winter‘s Tale (Wintermärchen)thematisierte die Translations- und Literaturwissenschaftlerin Katharina Walter (Innsbruck) in ihrem Vortrag das Spannungsverhältnis zwischen Texttreue und kreativem Selbstausdruck. Dazu präsentierte sie einen höchst aufschlussreichen Vergleich zwischen dem Original und den Übersetzungen von Dorothea Tieck und Peter Handke. Thomas Edeling (Banská Bystrica), Lektor an der Wirtschaftsfakultät der Matej-Bel-Universität, ging auf die intersemiotische Übersetzung von Text in Film im Rahmen der Adaptation ein und behandelte Handkes Rolle als Drehbuchautor für Wim Wenders’ Film Falsche Bewegung.
Die Ausstellung der veröffentlichten Übersetzungen und handschriftlichen Proben fand großen Anklang. (Foto: Martina Mayer)
Die Ausstellung der veröffentlichten Übersetzungen und handschriftlichen Proben fand großen Anklang. (Foto: Martina Mayer)
Die Literaturwissenschaftlerin Joana Moura (Lissabon) präsentierte Handkes Sichtweise zur Person und Stellung des Übersetzers: Der Übersetzer ist laut Handke physisch präsent und kein Diener des Autors; er lässt seine Erfahrungen und Gefühle in die Übersetzung einfließen. Der Germanist Dirk Weissmann (Paris) beschäftigte sich mit Selbstübersetzungen Handkes aus dem Französischen, die zwischen 2001 und 2012 entstanden waren: Pourquoi une cuisine? (Warum eine Küche), Jusqu’à ce que le jour vous sépare ou Une question de lumière (Bis daß der Tag euch scheidet oder Eine Frage des Lichts) und Les Beaux jours d’Aranjuez (Die schönen Tage von Aranjuez). Den Abschluss der Tagung bildete der Vortrag von Wolfgang Pöckl (Innsbruck), der Handkes Übersetzungen von Patrick Modiano einem kritischen Übersetzungsvergleich unterzog. Dabei legte er einerseits ein Augenmerk auf Kondensationsstrategien, auf die diatopische Mischung (Austriazismen neben Teutonismen) in den Texten und auf die Behandlung von Realien, verwies andererseits jedoch auch auf so manchen Übersetzungsfehler, der aufmerksamen Lesern nicht entgeht.
Diese mannigfaltigen Blicke auf Peter Handkes übersetzerisches Werk stellten eine beträchtliche Erweiterung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung zu diesem Thema dar. Außerdem wurde die Tagung von einer Ausstellung der in Buchform publizierten Übersetzungen Peter Handkes sowie zahlreicher Kopien handschriftlicher Proben seiner Übersetzungsarbeit umrahmt. Ihren Ausklang fand die Tagung in einer gemeinschaftlichen, kulinarisch abgerundeten Abschlussdiskussion aller Vortragenden sowie einem Ausflug auf die Hungerburg, wo den interessanten Ein-, Über- und Durchblicken zu Peter Handke ein wunderschöner Ausblick auf die Stadt folgte. Damit fand die in entspannter Atmosphäre verlaufene Tagung einen würdigen Abschluss. Ein herzliches Dankeschön gilt den großzügigen Sponsoren: dem Dekanat der Philologisch-Kulturwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Innsbruck, dem Land Vorarlberg, dem Forschungszentrum Prozesse der Literaturvermittlung und dem Frankreich-Schwerpunkt der Universität. Der größte Dank sei allerdings allen Tagungsteilnehmern sowie dem interessierten Publikum gegenüber zum Ausdruck gebracht.
(Maria Artho, BA BA & Anna Ortner, BA
und Irina Schulthess, BA – Institut für Translationswissenscha

Saturday, May 25, 2013



  • By Michael Roloff
  • I did my first translations senior year in college 1957/58, an Ernst Stadler poem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Stadler and published it in the Haverford Bryn Mawr Review. Returning from my junior year abroad not only was I much taken with German expressionism but with Brecht and one of the Brecht Lehrstücke was part of my senior thesis – trouble is that memory fails to divulge whether I translated The Measure Taken or The Exception & the Rule – or both? I know I worked on both… which did I complete? Perhaps Professor Harry Pfund kept the papers? I was also much taken, as of that year by the early Pound, and of the ABC of Reading and wrote an apparently brilliant essay – I turned it in both at a Haverford and Bryn Mawr course - on Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, also much taken by Goethe – a great class with Harry Pfund, and a great essay it appears on Faust – pretty well all of the place in other words, while also getting over a bad case of mono.            The next time I translated was Robert Musil’s The Portuguese Woman, as part of a  Masters Thesis – I really had nothing that urgent to say on Musil but certainly loved the translating work on that great novella – it has a moment the existence of a life, if not the world, hinges on a single comma.                        

  • In New York then, trying to live the life of the ABC of Reading, Burton Pike, a Musil scholar, introduced me to Michael Lebeck through whom I met Robert Phelps who introduced me to Louise Bogan whose Valery translations I then published in Metamorphosis as well as working with her on a challenging Ernst Jünger text, uncompensated but extremely pleasurable collaborative work. For money I slipped into translating and because Roger Klein was so taken with my work on the Musil and the Jünger he gave me three Hesse novels to translate. If you have done Brecht, Musil and Jünger, Hesse is difficult, especially the early Hesse, for being stylistically antiquated. With Demian Hesse’s style loses its antiquarian quality yet in itself turns not into anything especially interesting – Hesse after all was a designer of Rorschach texts. Thus I always admired Ralph Mannheim’s work in keeping Hesse’s style at such a high literate level in his translation that I prefer to read Hesse in translation – not that I am, as you will see, a fan of Mannheim’s translations in every respects.

  •                  Translation work, then, made it possible to stay independent – the object was not to become affiliated with a firm, just as I had not wanted to become part of a University literature department. Eventually I became affiliated with Farrar, Straus, and translated the Peter Handke plays, and as then Suhrkamp agent did the first four Kroetz plays for the director and friend Carl Weber who had done some major Handke productions by then. Kroetz presents unusual problems in that he wrote his plays in Bavarian dialect as well as normal German with inflections of dialect. First I sought to collaborate with Cormac McCarthy for his Orchard Keeper being in the only real dialect in American, what is left of Elizabethan in them thar Appalachians! Unable to talk McCarthy into the task I then compromised and translated Farmyard into my version of American black English, of which I had fair command for having no end of menial jobs during my High School and College years – among which menials however I don’t count the stretches of working as a union tile or marble man or  firefighting and geological surveying in Alaska, and having lived “black” during several stretches. This Americanization process of developing a “common touch” had the advantage for a translator that on the level of ordinary speech he develops an ear – which is what I find sorely missing in Mannheim, an immigrant who then lived most of his life in France. Mannheim, too, is not a great snake-skin modulator of syntactical rhythms when matters of that kind become all important ways of communicating the state of being of a writer, as is frequently the case with a breathing writer like Peter Handke. However, Mannheim, like “the Winstons”, then, is the kind of translator that editors who don’t know foreign languages feel they can trust to turn in what they regard as readable American English. More sophisticated editors, such as Fred Jordan and Richard Seaver of Grove Press and then Arcade, knew how to find a better fit between original and translator and the result does greater justice to the logos.    Carl had wanted to do Kroetz for finding 10 K to do a production – but then Kroetz asked for all 10 k for himself. Thus nothing happened to my translations for a few years. Once they started to be performed in the late 70s Kroetz did not share the translator’s one third share and so I was not too surprised to read Kroetz admitting few years ago that people say that “stinginess” is his major failing! I myself then found a way to get paid. And Google, the conscience of the world, can do wonders in tracking down productions for which you have not been paid.
  •    What I could not have imagined at the time I was doing this kind of work was – and that is the matter that his sketch addresses - is that people would steal the credit to translations, not necessarily for the fairly picayune translator’s share of fees – although that happened to me, too, a few years back, and not insubstantially - but for the credit to their names. Translating, after all, like editing, is a service to the author, to an author generally superior in talent to the translator, and that was how I approached my work, no matter what delights it afforded, especially in the case of Handke’s plays. And as a matter of fact, although it must have and did occur many times before, I myself did not become the credit filcher’s victim until the mid-80s, but then with vengeance – the time of the so well named “Bonfire of the Vanities”, of the celebrity culture, of an upsurge of the manifestation of the inferiority complex dialectically enforced by the powers that be, and thus the most perfect of my thieves is someone who worked at “Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous,” Denise Gordon, to whom I gave co-translation credit for being so nice to work on Michi’s Blood in the Yale Drama grad school, while Jack Gelber and I did the first performances of Farmyard at the old Yale Co-Op around 1974. I then published a book with five Kroetz translation, four my own, with Urizen Books, in 1976, as Farmyard & Other Plays.       

  • Denise’s pretense to be the sole translator, who has not a word of German, of Michi’s Blood did not transpire until 1986 and I probably would never have got wind of it if I had not shown back up on the West Coast at that time. After all, it was a hole in the wall production, but first rate, directed by a kid who had worked his way through Brandeis selling crack. And he then did a fine job of directing my Scenes from a Dental Slugfest – a play if ever there was one to at least upset your orthodontist. Simultaneously a production of my and Carl Weber’s translation of Handke’s They Are Dying Out was being done at a more substantial venue. I had no worries on that score – after all, I had received my translator’s share from the play service. As compared to poor little under-nourished flat-chested Denise, the director had got himself all the proper permissions. Thus imagine my surprise on beholding the director’s name as that of the translator! I introduced myself to the fellow, a German with passabe English who claimed to derive from the crowd that had produced Handke’s Offending the Audience/ Public Insult at the TAT theater in Frankurt in 1966. I asked about the translation, and his reply was “that is something else.” I was astounded, I was standing opposite the thief, and was he mad? And then he did it again while he and his girlfriend were treating me to strawberry sundaes, and with another collaboration of Carl’s and mine, Heiner Mueller’s The Mission where however I did not feel I deserved translation credit, because, say compared to Mueller’s great and demanding Destroyed Landscape, I had only edited Carl’s translation – something I loved to do and have been doing for fifty years since I started to do so for Fred Jordan at Grove Press and did again recently on Scott Abbott’s first rate translation of Handke’s long poem To Duration. It is wonderful monkish work, all Pink Panthers have been banished, the last close reading of a text, that most translators could do themselves if allowed to let the text cure for a year or two. Then, of course, there are the forever gloomy grammarians such as  Robert Hullot-Kentor where every misplaced comma on an Adorno text elicits rage.            

  • However, the fellow once again claiming translation credid for work he had not done, and I lowered the boom, and his little troupe disintegrated. So so unnecessary!                          

  • When happening on the index for now deceased Jack Gelber’s paper, what if he does not claim to be the translator of Farmyard – and there we had remained friends until his end! And what as a visiting scholar at the University of Washington I don’t happen on Carl Weber’s site at Stanford Drama department where he presents himself as the chief translator of Handke and Kroetz, I am barely mentioned with a “with”. – I myself had noticed, over the many years of fine collaborative work that Carl always seemed extremely keen on extra credit, where he had merely read through a text, and so I made it a point to feature him in the translation of They Are Dying Out where his work made a real difference. I then asked the Drama Department to set Carl straight and it took a while for him to get his act together. Look at the far man’s fattest bio ever http://www.stanford.edu/dept/drama/people/prof.html .The lie still appears in his Wikipedia entry I just noticed.                Here in Seattle another attempted but unsuccessful theft: someone who really knows about theater and used to be a first rate critic, Roger Downey, pretended to VDA (Verlag der Autoren) a firm I once represented in this country that Heiner Mueller had given him exclusive translation right to that gem Quartet – Roger the unsuccessful jewel thief! The backstabber! Who then did not show up for the Mueller Memorial service we organized at the University of Washington because the thought of meeting the translator of Quartet (I being merely the editor) gave him, the also food critic, a diabetes attack!
  •    However, on the principle of “the worst is yet to come” “now hear this” it blasts on the Good Ship Lollipop” and if I don’t get an e=mail around x-mas a few years ago from Natasha Mytnowych  at the Canadian Stage
  • their new director, Matthew Jocelyn, returned from many years in France, wants to do Tankred Dorst’s Fernando Krapp. I happen to be the translator, I did the translation for Carl Weber around 1994 and it premiered in Seattle around 1997 and what with Seattle critics being as benighted as the rest of the local clod hoppers a fairly unsophisticated play - that addresses the conundrum, the forever fatum of men being consigned to the Goddess/ Whore ambivalence in their relationship to women - drives the final nail into the coffin of the fine AhHa Theater, one of five fine small theaters to go belly-up during my first decade in the Emerald City. It is a good translation of a not terribly demanding text, and it was published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in an anthology edited by Carl Weber. The Canadian Stage is desperate to get a copy, they can’t find one in Toronto. Can I send them mine? Well, the quickest way is probably to turn the text into pdfs, and as I am doing so they do find a copy. I don’t give the matter too much further thought, but in the back of my mind rests the hope that a production at a major house will call attention to a play that is nearly as much a staple of European Theater as is Duerrenmatt’s The Visit, and based on one of my favorite novellas, Unamuno’s Nothing Less Than a Man, a work I have treasured since first it was published by Grove Press in the 60s.                        

  • Come the following Spring, news reaches me that Matthew Jocelyn of the Canadian Stage will premiere his own translation of Fernando Krapp. It appears that Jocelyn, who has never translated, has learned German in three months, and fails to heed the advice of the agent proprietor, Suhrkamp Verlag, not to poach my translation. Although a single healthy potato I suppose can save an Irishman’s life during a famine we are not just “talking small potatoes”,  but, say, maybe $ 1,000 as my share. Jocelyn, who knows the play from Paris, is of course more interested in the credit for his premiere production as the new director of the Canadian Stage. I receive an e-mail from a member of the troupe telling me what’s up and begging me not to make his name public and I make enough of a fuss for CS to e-mail that they would like to talk to me. I e-mail back “sure, send me a copy of Jocelyn’s text and then we’ll talk” and I receive the most perfect of replies: they cannot send me the text for “legal reasons” -  fucking right they can’t. And no one else seems to give a damn. On top of all the other rip-offs, especially from Roger Straus, a man I helped make millions, I have suffered I feel like the sailors on the Battleship Potemkin at the inception of the 1905 revolution. And if matters of this kind happen just to me and in my purview it is a safe guess these detriments are prevalent.
  • Yrs very truly,
  • Michael Roloff
  • Ex-officio P.E.N. Translation Committee
  • P.E.N. Executive Committee