The Art of Literary Translation ()

It may well be that the closest, most interpretative, and creative reading of a text involves translating it from one language to another. Questions of place, culture, epoch, voice, gender, and rhythm take on new urgency, helping us to deepen our writerly skills and sensibilities. As Joseph Brodsky put it: “You must memorize poems, do translation, study foreign languages. And the best way to study a foreign language…is by translating a poem…The music of the poem carries you, you float upon waves of sound, but, at the same time, you peer below the surface of the ocean, and there, in the depths, you notice the teeming life of sea creatures…”

Writers in all genres are welcome to explore this “teeming life” that is the fruit of literary translation. Our workshop has a triple focus: comparing and contrasting existing translations of the same work; reading translators on the art and theory of translation; and critiquing students’ translations-in-progress. We will also consider translation as an act of bearing witness to cultural and political crisis, and as a means of encoding messages that would otherwise be censored.


Learning Outcomes:
* As you make your own translations, you will think hard about:
* What is meant by the terms "original text," "fidelity to"/departure from the original";
* Specific choices concerning vocabulary, voice, rhythm, rhyme, texture, and other literary elements;
* The cultural politics between languages with many speakers and languages with fewer or perilously diminishing speakers;
* The presence and position of the translator themself vis à vis the original, the publishing world, and political ramifications of specific acts of translation;
* How best to launch a new translation into the world.


Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Students should email mfeitlowitz@bennington a statement of interest and a writing sample by [ date tba]
Corequisites: Knowledge of a second language is highly desirable.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: Four
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM & W 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Once a year

Categories: All courses
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