Monday, August 12, 2013

"Like looking at Flemish tapestries from the wrong side"


So here’s an idea I’ve been toying with:  I’m one of roughly two million people on earth who speak Slovenian (Sounds like a lot, but that equates to less than 3 hundredths of one percent of the world’s population.) The vast majority of the seven billion other  people on earth have never even heard of Slovenia—and if they have, I’d bet good money that they’ve never picked up a book of Slovene literature  a) because it’s a small country,  b) because it’s only 20 years old, but  c) mainly because most of the Slovene canon remains untranslated.

And while there are a few academics out there who are slowly working their way through a couple of the most important works, the door is wide open for, say, a Slovene-speaking native English speaker, and an English-speaking native Slovene speaker to put their heads together and start translating some stuff.  Mrs. DeMarest and I just happen to fit the bill. So we’ll see…  This would be a years-long project, of course, and a huge commitment of free time, but it might just be something I’d look back on with immense satisfaction.

Anyway, while mulling this over I was reminded of a passage from Don Quixote that rang true to me at the time:
“…it seems to me that translating from one language to another, unless it is from Greek and Latin, the queens of all languages, is like looking at Flemish tapestries from the wrong side, for although the figures are visible, they are covered by threads that obscure them, and cannot be seen with the smoothness and color of the right side”

     From Don Quixote , by Miguel Cervantes

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