| Kto raz się sparzy... || Oct 3, 2002 |
Oto, co Kundera powiedział na temat wczesnych przekładów swoich powieści, jako przedmowę do \'Sixty-three words\' (z \'The Art of the Novel\'), wersja angielska z 1988 roku:
\"In 1968 and 1969, \'The Joke\' was translated into all the Western languages. But what surprises! In France, the translator rewrote the novel by ornamenting my style. In England, the publisher cut out all the reflective passages, eliminated the musicological chapters, changed the order of the parts, recomposed the novel. Another country: I meet my translator, a man who knows not a word of Czech. \"Then how did you translate it?\" \"With my heart.\" And he pulls a photo of me from his wallet. He was so congenial that I almost believed it was actually possible to translate by some telepathy of the heart. Of course, it turned out to be much simpler: he had worked from the French rewrite, as had the translator in Argentina. Another country: the translation was done from the Czech. I open the book and happen on Helena\'s monologue. The long sentences that in my original go on for a whole paragraph at a time are broken up into a multitude of short ones... The shock of \'The Joke\'s\' translation left a permanent scar on me. Fortunately, I later came upon some faithful translators. But, alas, some are less faithful, too... And yet for me, because practically speaking I no longer have the Czech audience, translations are _everything_. I therefore decided, a few years ago, to put some order into the foreign editions of my books. This involved a certain amount of conflict and fatigue: reading, checking, correcting my novels, old and new, in the three or four foreign languages I can read, completely took over a whole period of my life...
The writer who determines to supervise the translations of his books finds himself chasing after hordes of words like a shepherd after a flock of wild sheep - a sorry figure to himself, a laughable one to others. I suspect that my friend Pierre Nora, editor of the magazine \'Le Débat\', recognized the sadly comical quality of my shepherd existence. One day, with barely disguised compassion, he told me: \"Look, forget this torture, and instead write something for me. The translations have forced you to think about every one of your words. So write your own, personal dictionary. A dictionary for your novels. Put down your key words, your problem words, the words you love...\"
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