Rest In Peace - Carl Weissner 1940-2012

Unless one is fluent in the language, a translation always seems to be a crapshoot. One of my favorite novels is Dead Souls. I've read three different translations and am still unsure whether or not I fully get it. And what sounds correct to my modern ear isn't necessarily any closer to the author's intent. Whenever I finish a translated work, it feels like I've only maybe read it. If that makes any sense.
 
[...] since he didn't speak or read German. He trusted Weissner, but he had no way of knowing whether Weissner was any good at what he did.[...]
Right, he had no way to judge the quality of Weissners translations into German, but there was at least an indication: he knew the English that Weissner was using in conversations and letters. If CW wouldn't have been capable to manage this, Hank would have known.

[...] So if the experience is different, are we even experiencing the same thing?.
sure not. and this doesn't only apply for translations but for the original text also. Every individual has his/her own look at things and interpretation.

To be exact, this applies to every experience, not only reading. If you and I are standing together, looking at an appartment at DeLongpre, we are not seeing the same thing.
 

d gray

tried to do his best but could not
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sure not. and this doesn't only apply for translations but for the original text also. Every individual has his/her own look at things and interpretation.

To be exact, this applies to every experience, not only reading. If you and I are standing together, looking at an appartment at DeLongpre, we are not seeing the same thing.
i don't think that's what he meant. and i totally relate to mjp's thoughts about translations. it's hard to read them and feel
i'm getting the real deal.

literature and poetry are as much about the specific words used as they are about the story itself, i think. that can't help but
be lost in translation, no matter how good the translator.
 
agreed on the uniqueness of the original and translations never be able to keep up with that.

My point was - and I do think that's only the expansion of just what he was saying (so I too do relate to mjps thoughts about translations - I just am extending the point to a more general one):

The main reason why translations can't compete with the richness of the original - esp in poetry - is, because the translator has to interpret and thus reduce the variety of a text. (sometimes you can still keep the richness in a translation though.)

But so is reading the original itself: every reader of an original does interpret the text, and thus reduces from a potentially wide variety to one or few 'meanings'. The difference to a translation is only gradually. It's not a translator, but only the reader reducing the text. Still it's reducing and in both cases the reason is the need to 'interpret' what you're reading.

So, I wasn't trying to contradict mjps points - I was trying to expand them. The message is: everything is relative always.
 
Not so sure that everything is relative regarding art. Of course people like what they like, but discernment can't
be discounted. Unless we're able to discern what's great from what's merely good from what's shit, then it's all
meaningless. Just because you love Nicholas Sparks doesn't make that fucker a competent writer. I personally
have never dug Picasso, but I don't discount his genius.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
But so is reading the original itself: every reader of an original does interpret the text, and thus reduces from a potentially wide variety to one or few 'meanings'.
So, I wasn't trying to contradict mjps points - I was trying to expand them. The message is: everything is relative always.
Do agree with a lot here about, every reader interpreting it differently. But I suppose the main key to success with a translation is the quality of translator and using a "proper writer" who will stay faithful, but understand that he/she is producing a parallel piece of work that reflects the ethos, emotions etc. rather than a purist, literal translation which will result in something intrinsic being lost.

We've enjoyed translated works from all around the world for centuries, so it does work.

My solution is just to abolish every other language bar English, or we are all forced to become fluent in at least three different languages; job done.
 

mjp

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Every individual has his/her own look at things and interpretation.
Fair enough.
We've enjoyed translated works from all around the world for centuries, so it does work.
Sure, it "works" as a mechanical function to convey information. I just maintain that it does not work on an artistic level where writing is concerned. The odds are stacked against it working. There are too many differences not only in language, but in culture, humor, nuance, slang, context, etc.

The ideal translator would be native bilingual, but even in that case, they can't be native to two cultures, so something will inevitably be lost along the way.

Reading Bukowski (or any American writer) translated to German (or Polish or Farsi or Esperanto) is not the same as reading Bukowski in the original English. How could it be?

But if no two people see the same thing in a poem, I suppose it doesn't matter.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
There are too many differences not only in language, but in culture, humor, nuance, slang, context, etc.
Agreed. So that's probably why the best translations don't attempt an exact replica, but a parallel piece of work that makes sense in their own culture, grammar etc. and should be done by fluent writers. It may almost be a re-write, but staying true to the essence of work and obviously faithful to the text as close as possible.
I don't think it matters that it's not exactly the same. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Although as readers we are placing an awful lot of trust in the publishers that we are getting a high quality product and that's an act of faith on our part.
 
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Carl Weissner started the Bukowski-hype when he published its first translation at tiny Maro-Verlag, then the big editors discerned that they could make money with Bukowski, and it all began. Germany was a country of readers in these times and book shops flourished.

Bukowski once mentioned that writing with Carl had been kind of spiritual relief for him, and in later years he hadn't such a conversational friend any more, Carl had been the only one, whatever that means, and Carl once mentioned that he really focused on these letters.

we should keep in mind, too that Bukowski was a commercial success in all European countries, and Carl made german-only translations, though he was probably kind of European representative.

Bukowski was a master of style, and his style creates a certain unique atmosphere, and this is very very hard to translate, especially when the environment is different in other countries.
 

mjp

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It may almost be a re-write...
Which is what I don't like about it and why I don't like movie remakes and cover songs and interpretations and remixes and the endless amount of other non-creative "creativity" covering the world.

It doesn't matter anyway, it's not a problem that anyone is looking to solve. It's just one of those things that makes me and Arsenio go, "Hmm..."
 
...and why I don't like [...] cover songs and interpretations and remixes and the endless amount of other non-creative "creativity" covering the world.
If the jazz world hadn't turned the Broadway songbook from little more than a load of sappy drivel into something not only listenable, but actually groundbreaking, we'd probably all be discussing this wearing bowler hats.
 

mjp

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If the jazz world hadn't turned the Broadway songbook [...] into something [...] groundbreaking...
Transformation isn't the same as translation. If that's your point.

Which it may not be, but I don't know anything about jazz or Broadway, so there's that.
 
One could argue that many of those jazz standards, especially the earlier versions, are covers, and certainly are interpretations, of Tin Pan Alley stuff, was my point.
 
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To be exact, this applies to every experience, not only reading. If you and I are standing together, looking at an appartment at DeLongpre, we are not seeing the same thing.
fundamental truth.

/skips boring personal story
 
There is a quote I once read. It was "mutual experience, separate conclusion." Two people go to a movie. One person says, "man that movie was great." The other person says, "God, that movie sucked." Mutual experience, separate conclusion. Its so true that we all draw our own conclusions from the things we experience. The view of Buk's old place on De Longpre looks different to all who view it. Translation obvious work to some extent and let's be glad we have them. Think of some of the ancient Chinese text that were translated that held profound wisdom.

One thing is for darn sure for a practical basis. It sure is great that Carl existed and did what he did or our main Dude, Buk, would not have enjoyed the success and cash he so badly needed and deserved.

I'm re-reading Living on Luck so I'm focused on Buk's daily life back in the day and how the German people "gave" Buk the big money to break him out his constant hard times.

Now we all know that mjp can read german. Isn't that what he said?
 
Skiroomalum,
What posessed you to change your avatar or image to Nipsy Russle. Didn't you used to have a cool Buk drawing as your image? I'm sure you remember the "Devil made me do it" guy. My man Flip Wilson.
 
yeah, right. esp pic #2 has something of a Paris-in-May-1968-revolutionary student: existentialist, intellectual, angry, artsy, ready to throw a stone at a cop.
 
Today is Carl Weissner's 80th birthday.

Last month a German book with his essays was published, three of which about Buk.
Much recommended for the German-speaking crowd here [https://taz.de/Literarischer-Uebersetzer-Carl-Weissner/!5679832/]

Btw., barely anybody knows, that his real name was "Wießner". The punchline being, that if an American is pronouncing the word "Weissner" as it's spelled, it does sound like "Wießner" in German.

I once made a snapshot of his mailbox in Mannheim:

SP_A1049_Weissner_mini.jpg
 
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