Friday, May 08, 2009

Translation and Its Artist

Surfing through blogs gets you to discover some fascinating people. Such as, for example, the Finnish Kersti Juva.

She is an Artist Professor. Artist Professors are appointed by the Central Arts Council, from among the candidates proposed by the National Councils of Arts, either until further notice or for a maximum of five years. It is required that the appointed person be considered a particularly competent artist on the basis of his or her earlier activities. Artist Professors have to practice creative, artistic work in their field. They can also lecture in universities and guide other artists.

Her art? Translation.

The list of books Kersti translated from English into Finnish is massive: 85. Among the names Tolkien features prominently, but other gems include AA Milne, L. Frank Baum, Laurie Lee, Alice Walker, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. She has won the Finnish Government Annual Award for Translation 1976 (Lord of The Rings and Watership Down) and 1986 (The Hobbit and Papermen) , Werner Söderstöm Publisher’s award 1997 (No One to Accompany Me), Suomi Award (Finnish Government Annual Award) 1998 (Tristram Shandy) , Agricola Prize for the best translation 1999 (Tristram Shandy) , Finnish nomination for the European Union Aristeion award 1999 (Tristram Shandy) , and the Finnish Cultural Fund Prize for Life's Work 2006.

"Translating can be described more or less like this: I dress myself in the original text and start to imitate the author’s gestures and movements . . . If one sets out from the premise that the translation must be the equivalent of the original text in another language, translating is impossible. A translation cannot empty the original into a new language. The true goal of a translation is not to resemble the original text, but to fill its place, or, perhaps better, to create a similar place within the target culture.

You can read her ideas about translating literature here.

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