June 28, 2010 5:32 PM Subscribe
There is a before and an after André Markowicz. In the early 1990s the translator, born to a Russian mother and French father, began translating the complete works of Dostoyevsky for Babel / Actes Sud. By the time he finished the mammoth undertaking in 2002 he had proved something: what people had been reading by Dostoyevsky wasn’t Dostoyevsky
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. - an interview with André Marcowicz
, writer and translator.Translating is reading with your fingers. You don’t just read the story, but the words as well. It’s more accurate. Translating involves keeping up two levels of reaction simultaneously, emotion and detail, without ever choosing one over the other.
On a mistake he made while translating Chekhov: That gave me an insight: in order to translate, you don’t just have to know the language, but life. For instance, I talked about the smell of hay in the rain. I’d translated literally, without realizing that hay left out in the rain is a sign of dereliction, of famine to come.