Struggling to get the work done
Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:40
German to English
Nov 24, 2003

Whenever I'm in the US, I pick up a copy of my favorite literary review, The New York Review of Books. The other day I read two letters written in 1963 by the fine American poet Robert Lowell to Elizabeth Bishop, another great American poet. In one letter, Robert Lowell tells Bishop, "The wolf with its head on its paws lies looking at the desolate yellow wastes of our present civilization, ready when your book comes to howl its welcome."

And then he tells her what it's like when he's struggling to write his poems: "I am at the end of something. Up till now I've felt I was all blue spots and blotches inside, more than I could bear really, if I looked at myself, and of course I wanted to do nothing else. So day after day, I wrote, sometimes too absorbed to even stop for lunch and often sitting with my family in a stupor, mulling over a phrase or a set of lines for almost hours, hypnotized, under a spell, often a bad spell. Now out of this, I have seven poems and seven translations ....”

Does this sound familiar?

[Edited at 2003-11-24 02:36]

[Edited at 2003-11-24 04:16]

[Edited at 2003-11-24 14:19]

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Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:40
Member (2001)
French to English
+ ...
Exactly! Nov 24, 2003

Kim Metzger wrote:
Does this sound familiar?

It sure does!

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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:40
German to English
+ ...
Too right! Nov 24, 2003

This reminds me of a recent experience in the wonderful Egyptian Museum in Turin, when my dear lady wife reminded me that the English translations of the info cards for the exhibits were there to provide information and not to be mentally edited by a recalcitrant translator. She knew exactly what I was up to

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Domenica Grangiotti  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:40
English to Italian
+ ...
Translation and Back-translation Nov 24, 2003

I find myself wondering what the English word is for the Italian translation I am either hearing or reading.
I distinctly remember watching the film "A Passage to India" (so beautiful) where the Ministry of Education was translated as il Ministero dell'Educazione (and not Istruzione - as it should be). Needless to say, I passed this important piece of information on to all my friends sitting there with me, who could not care less (and probably some of them wondered if I was in my right mind).

Thanks for sharing

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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:40
German to Italian
+ ...
This sounds familiar too Nov 24, 2003

Domenica Grangiotti wrote:

Needless to say, I passed this important piece of information on to all my friends sitting there with me, who could not care less (and probably some of them wondered if I was in my right mind).

That's exactly what I do whenever I find a mistranslation in a book, a film etc. I think my friends now hate me - at least those who are not translators as well

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