Grand Prix du Roman
Thread poster: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:31
Flemish to English
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Oct 26, 2006

L’Académie française, dans sa séance du jeudi 26 octobre 2006, a décerné son Grand Prix du Roman à Jonathan Littell pour Les Bienveillantes (éditions Gallimard).
During its session of October 26,2006 the (prestigious)"Académie française" has awarded its "Grand Prix du Roman" à Jonathan Littell (American) for "Les Bienveillantes". (published by Gallimard).
Following the premise that anybody who translates/writes in a language other than his/her native language, J.Littell is
an "unprofessional writer": he dared to write in a language that was not his native language.

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Angeliki Papadopoulou  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:31
Member (2006)
English to Greek
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More power to him... Oct 27, 2006 all I can say!

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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:31
German to English
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Translation and writing are two different things.... Mar 29, 2007

Williamson, you wrote...
Following the premise that anybody who translates/writes in a language other than his/her native language, J.Littell is an "unprofessional writer"

There seems to be something missing here, but I assume you meant to include the words “is unprofessional” after “native language”.

I think this view is very widespread among and about translators, but I never heard it expressed about writers. Writing and translating are two different things. If you write a book and submit it for publication, everyone—the agent or publisher’s reader, critics, the end readers—is going to judge it as your work. They are also immediately able to see if you are no good, whereas with a translation, the original author’s work may have been just as wooden, ungrammatical and unidiomatic for all the reader knows.

Also, as a writer, you have freedom. You have a certain style and vocabulary, and you don’t need to write anything that falls outside it. If you translate, on the other hand, you are under some obligation to translate what the author wrote; you don’t have the option of writing what you would have written if writing from scratch in your target language.

There is nothing in the least unusual about authors writing and achieving fame in a non-native language. Think of Arthur Koestler, Anaïs Nin, Samuel Beckett, Heinrich Heine, Milan Kundera, Vladimir Nabokov.... My advice to anyone gifted enough to do this: stop wasting time earning peanuts as a translator, and go out and become a famous author!

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