Saturday, March 21, 2009

"I feel quite strongly about translators because they're so underestimated.."

Christopher Hampton, a British playwright, screenwriter and translator, is translating "God of Carnage," a searing dark comedy by French playwright Yasmina Reza, from French into English for its London debut, and then from British into American English for the Broadway production.

Mr. Hampton, an Oxford-trained linguist, has translated five of Ms. Reza's seven plays, among them "Life x 3" and the smash-hit "Art," which grossed more than $300 million world-wide.

"I feel quite strongly about translators because they're so underestimated," says Mr. Hampton, a 63-year-old with shoulder-length gray hair. "Sometimes you read a novel and you can't see who translated it, or they get paid very badly, and I think it's a very vital cultural exercise."

Translating Ms. Reza's plays, which are littered with slang and technical jargon used by lawyers and other professionals, can be tricky, Mr. Hampton says. He usually works on them alone for five or six weeks, and then sends her the results and waits "for the complaints to come in."

You can read more about Hampton's work here

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