Thursday, 3 February 2011

Sebald, translation, photography

A while ago I had a half-formed idea about trying to put together a submission to the Translation issue of Qarrtsiluni (which is now turning out to be an absolutely spellbinding issue, a magical stream of exceptional small works).  I'd come upon this poor quality but interesting photo I took a long time ago of a passer-by doubly reflected in a double-glazed office window. I was thinking about how this image - two parallel versions -the same, but not the same - evoked the idea of an original and its translation.  Also about why photography in general puts me in mind of translation and vice versa - something about them both relating to the essence and the image and their changing places. I quickly realised that I'd need to think about this for several years before I had anything coherent to say. The notion continues to simmer, though, and came back to a rolling boil when I saw the photo sequence that Kate Griffin, co-director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, had put together on her terrific photo blog, in conjunction with a quotation from W.G. Sebald's Austerlitz, in time for this year's annual Sebald Lecture and literary translation prizes

" If language may be regarded as an old city full of streets and squares, nooks and crannies, with some quarters dating from far back in time while others have been torn down, cleaned up and rebuilt, and with suburbs reaching further and further into the surrounding country ..."

6 comments:

liliannattel said...

That's a fascinating idea, Jean, the link between translation and photography.

marja-leena said...

I like your thoughts (and image) on the original and its translation. The quote is wonderful as is Griffin's site where I've spent far too much time today!

Jean said...

M-L, yes it's a gorgeous photoblog, isn't it? I met Kate briefly last year and she mentioned her blog, which I then looked for, and loved at once.

20th Century Woman said...

I like the connections and the photographs, both yours and Griffin's.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Oh wow! I do love this photo--the shape of his hands.

Lucy said...

How intriguing... I look forward to coming back later in the day to explore those links.

Thanks for your comment and suggestion about the 'Language-Place...' contribution. Re that, do you think you might e-mail me? Just something I wanted to ask you about:

lucy.kmptn@gmail.com