Sunday, September 23, 2007

Culture/Translation

An interesting exchange in the new york review of books about Austrian literature, specially lack of interest in theatre and problems of translation in general. I found this specially worth highlighting:

One of the presumptions behind globalization is that every work of narrative and dramatic art can be immediately and profitably translated into every language. All my own work on translation (see particularly my book Translating Style) suggests that for some authors the context of the original language and society remains supremely important and makes international comprehension unlikely. I would not describe this as "provincialism" if only because such writers address at the very least a national audience. I certainly would not see it as negative, but rather as something to savor, a guarantee that culture has not become uniform and monolithic. It does however present serious problems for those who award international prizes for literature.

Indeed, as readers it is our responsibility to look for specific elements and particularities of culture in the book and give them the importance they deserve. This is just one way to resist the normative forces of globalization. Thomas Bernhard is not provincial because he wrote plays for a specific Austrian audience. It is the readers who won't read Heldenplatz thinking that it is of no concern to them because they don't live there. (I don't think the play has been translated into English.)

Another great Austrian consistently celebrated on the blog, Michael Haneke, gets a full page profile treatment in the new york times magazine. I didn't like the accompanying audio commentary by A.O. Scott that much. He made similar points in an article some time back too. (Though I love the title of the piece - "The Discreet Masochism of the Bourgeoisie")

MOMA is holding a retrospective of his films next month. It includes his never before released films that he made for Austrian and German TV. I am particularly intrigued by his adaptations of Ingeborg Bachmann and Joseph Roth. More details here.

2 comments:

mr waggish said...

Awesome! I really, really want to see 3 Paths to the Lake.

Alok said...

me too...