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Blogging the Simple and Impossible Task of Literary Translation

flores-azuis British writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn is blogging his progress as he translates Blue Flowers, a novel by Brazilian writer Carola Saavedra, from Portuguese into English, a process that “is both simple and impossible”:

So over these next couple of months I’m going to try to articulate what for me are the delights and frustrations of the work of translating a novel. I’m going to try to give an insight into the processes that go into that work. I’m going to try to convey what it actually feels like to live inside someone else’s writing so completely and so attentively that in time you feel capable of faking it yourself, and faking it so well – with all its joys and idiosyncrasies – that your writing voice ends up seeming somehow identical to your author’s, and that you seem to be performing a magical transformation whose magic lies in the very fact that nothing is changed at all. (Except – yes, of course – along the way every individual word has been removed and replaced.)

The book opens with a love letter to an unnamed recipient, and the simple start of a letter presents a multitude of unexpected choices. See the whole series to date here.

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