注册 登录  
 加关注
   显示下一条  |  关闭
温馨提示!由于新浪微博认证机制调整,您的新浪微博帐号绑定已过期,请重新绑定!立即重新绑定新浪微博》  |  关闭

南桥的博客

Be the change you want to see.

 
 
 

日志

 
 

译者的自白  

2011-02-11 09:53:00|  分类: English |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

  下载LOFTER 我的照片书  |
I am by profession an instructional designer, helping professors use technology. The work involves staring at the computer during much of the day. After finishing my professional work, I go back home, have dinner, wash dishes, and read a book to my kids. And then I go back to my computer to get a few more hours of screen tan - this time translating novels. The lack of physical activity means it isn't a balanced lifestyle.

Well, translators don't have a life anyway. One has to be slightly crazy to get into it, and even crazier to keep doing it. Translation is literally back-breaking work, which requires intensive mental effort and minimal external distraction. You sit quietly at the computer for so long that a passing alien might mistake you for a sculpture. Translation is difficult, too. Some books are so difficult to read that even one of my long time supporters said she was there for moral and spiritual support, not linguistic assistance.

Since 1997, I have translated a dozen or so books, including V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin and Joseph O'Neill's Netherland. Some of these books have won prizes. Let the Great World Spin, for instance, won the 2010 Weishanhu Prize, the highest literary award for an international author. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn won China Times's Books of the Year Award in the Youth Reading category at the end of 2010.

In any other line of work, this would have made a person rich and famous. In translation, you remain mostly off stage, and often poor - an indication that translators are artists, too. At present, most publishers pay about 65-100 yuan ($10-15) per thousand words for literary translation, no matter how good you are. You know that words are cheap because the rate has remained at this level for decades. The rate is so pathetic that I once considered giving up translation in pursuit of a career as a pig farmer, an idea that came to me after I translated Annie Proulx's That Old Ace in the Hole, a novel featuring a pig farm scout.

Then why would one translate? Part of my reason is the difficulty in saying "no". Since most publishers do not pay much, they add a lot of courtesy on top of their inquiry. I won't blink to resist coercion or temptation. But kindness kills. Courtesy conquers. Many editors' sincerity and persistence embarrass me into saying: "What the heck, I'll do it." I simply would not be able to bear the guilt if I rejected a well-made proposal from a cordial editor. It's a good thing that I did not encounter such a situation in marital decisions years ago. Also, literary translation is a rather small field. It is important to maintain a good relationship with editors, just for rainy days. Sooner or later, one gets addicted. Giving it up will be traumatic, just as continuing it could be.

Literary translation brings some secret joys. You get to interact deeply with good literature. Another joy comes from hope, almost a Promethean one, to borrow some small literary fires to set China's dull literary scene ablaze. Many of the authors I have translated were not even known in China when I started translating them. When I started Naipaul's A Bend in the River, he had not won the Nobel Prize for Literature and few people in China had heard about him. Now he is almost a household name among Chinese intellectuals. Translators have helped in a small way to make many authors' names familiar in China.

Through translation books travel, well received in some countries but rejected in some others. I was told by Colum McCann that his Songdogs was very well received in France and Germany.

There are some things in a book that make it click in a particular culture. Exactly which book have this potential is as much a translator's intuition as it is the publisher's.

As books travel, we seek to be good travel agents so that "the journey is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery" (Constantine P. Cavafy's Ithaca) among their new readers in a new language.

I am also a blogger, so as I translate and write profusely (sometimes to a fault, I must admit) about these books as a book critic, mostly as a change from translation. I talk a lot about why books are good or bad. In China, writing has been held almost as a mysterious art thanks to Lu Xun's jeer that some people wanted to learn writing by reading "novel writing methods".

The assumption is that you are either born a writer or you are not. But why not? People can learn the craft of writing by opening themselves to good influences. Good writing inspires awe and gives ideas. Good authors get others excited about particular ways to write, the way Franz Kafka wowed Gabriel Garcia Marquez with The Metamorphosis.

Such impact is made possible through the work of translators who can knock authors from their familiar pedestals or get them out of the maze of their writers' blocks.

It's my secret dream that one day or one night, a Chinese author reads a book I have translated and bangs on the desk: "I didn't know that novels can be written like this! I can do that!" There, the circle of life for writers goes on.

Visions like this keep me going, in the depth of the night, when the non-reading world has gone to sleep.

The author is a literary translator, instructional designer living in the US. 


文字廉价,艺术永恒

按职业讲,我是个帮助教授运用科技的课程设计师。这项工作使我一天中大部分时间都盯着电脑。完成职业的工作后,我回到家,吃饭,洗碗筷,给孩子们念书。忙完这些,回到我的电脑前,再花上几小时盯着电脑——这回是翻译小说。这种生活方式缺乏体力锻炼,颇不平衡。

话说回来,翻译家又有什么生活方式可言?人不有点疯劲才不会去做翻译,坚持往下做就更显疯狂了。翻译委实是个非常累人的活计,它需要集中脑力,尽量少受外部干扰。你会长时间静静坐在电脑前,恐怕路过的外星人会误以为你是雕塑。翻译也很难。一些书很难读,以至于一个长期支持我的人说她会在道德和精神上支持我,可是不愿给我语言方面的帮助。

从1997年起,我已经翻译了10多本书,包括奈保尔的《河湾》,贝蒂·史密斯的《布鲁克林有棵树》,科尔姆·麦凯恩的《转吧,这伟大的世界》和约瑟夫·奥尼尔的《荷兰》。有些书获过奖。《转吧,这伟大的世界》获得2010年度最佳外国小说微山湖奖。《布鲁克林有棵树》在2010年末获得《中国时报》“开卷好书奖”中的“青少年佳作奖”。

如果是其他工作,这会让一个人名利双收。在翻译行业,你仍会寂寂无闻,仍会囊中羞涩——不过这说明了翻译者也可归入艺术家行列吧。按当前行情,不管你翻译的多好,出版商对文学翻译的出价是千字65到100元。这下你该知道文字很廉价了,因为这个价格已经维持了几十年。这种稿费实在少得可悲。记得翻完安妮·普鲁的《老谋深算》(这本小说以养猪场的选址员为主人公)后,我甚至想过放弃翻译,去做猪农。 

那么人为什么要做翻译呢?我的部分原因是很难说“不”。虽然大部分出版商出价很低,在询问时十分客气。抗拒胁迫或诱惑不难,但有时候善良却让人无招架之功。很多编辑十分真诚、坚持,我往往最后是说:“见鬼,翻吧。”拒绝一个客气而诚恳编辑,会让人觉得十分惭愧。所幸这种局面,当初找对象的时候没遇到过。另外,文学翻译是个小圈子。和编辑保持好关系也很重要,也算是防止不测吧。另外翻译这事做久了,人会痴迷起来。放弃会和坚持一样留下创伤。

文学翻译能带给你一些神秘的愉悦感。你会和好的文学进行深交流、互动。另外一种愉悦来自一种普罗米修斯盗火似的希望。我们也希望带来一些小的文学星星之火,让略显呆滞的国内文学原野熊熊燃烧。翻译会把好作品好作者介绍过来,这也是很有意思的事。开始翻译时,我翻过的很多作品的作者毫不出名。开始翻译奈保尔的《河湾》时,他还没有获得诺贝尔文学奖,在中国几乎没有人听过他。现在,在中国的知识分子中,他可以说是一个家喻户晓的人物。

通过翻译,书在旅行。它们在一些国家受到好评,在另一些国家遭到拒绝。科伦·麦凯恩告诉我,他的《歌犬》在法国和德国很受欢迎。这本书中的一些东西使它在某一文化中受欢迎。不同书有不同潜质,出版商能察觉,译者有时候一样有所直觉。在书的旅行当中,我们努力做称职的“旅行代理”,让它们在新的读者新的语言中“道路漫长,充满历险,充满知识”(康斯坦丁·卡瓦菲的《伊萨卡》)的感觉。

我也是个博客,也写过大量关于所译图书的评论(有时候我承认都显得过了点)。这有时不过是翻译之余的消遣。我常评论某书好或不好,也希望借此开展作者之间思想和方法的交流。在中国,由于鲁迅嘲弄有人想通过“小说做法”学习写作,写作几乎成为了一门神秘的艺术。 这种思考的潜在假设是,写作是一种或有或无的与生俱来的能力。但是为什么不能学习呢?人们可以通过接受好的影响,学习写作的技巧。好的作品能引人敬佩,能激发思维。好的作者能以某种方法启发他人,正如弗兰兹·卡夫卡的《变形记》让加夫列尔·加西亚·马尔克斯惊叹那样。译者的工作使得这种影响成为可能。译者兴许可以将作者带出自我迷恋,或带他们走出思维的困局。

我常偷偷梦想,有朝一日,某位中国作家读到我译的书时,拍案而起:“我不知道小说能这样写!我也能做到!”那样,作家间的传承将继续绵延下去。 

这样的幻想,让我在夜深人静,在不读书的人们进入梦乡之时,仍笔耕不息。
 
(中文译文来自中国日报,编译 张斯 编辑 潘忠明 ,略有修改)
  评论这张
 
阅读(18307)| 评论(30)
推荐

历史上的今天

在LOFTER的更多文章

评论

<#--最新日志,群博日志--> <#--推荐日志--> <#--引用记录--> <#--博主推荐--> <#--随机阅读--> <#--首页推荐--> <#--历史上的今天--> <#--被推荐日志--> <#--上一篇,下一篇--> <#-- 热度 --> <#-- 网易新闻广告 --> <#--右边模块结构--> <#--评论模块结构--> <#--引用模块结构--> <#--博主发起的投票-->
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

页脚

网易公司版权所有 ©1997-2017