Very early in life, I developed a fetish for words and letters and loved enunciating any letter that I came across, some made sense while others did not. Later on, fascinated by the literature and culture of all countries, I tried dabbling around with foreign languages, but soon I became cognizant of my linguistic handicap. My linguistic skills are restricted to English and Hindi and other languages do not register, they just fall through the gaps. I am thus doomed to read the English translated versions of international text.
I recently finished reading the translated version of the Greek novel Zorba the Greek and am left with a major disappointment. In the novel, Nikos has tried to convey deep philosophical theories through the simple outlook of the character Zorba but the deeper implications have been lost somewhere in the translation. You can feel the great potential of the book but the book, however, fails to leave an impact. The lackluster language devoid of any depth, miserably fails to grip the reader and the book falls short of a travel book. Perhaps it is not just the translation, but also the archaic language in use at that time that results in the language disaster.
While narrating my experience with a friend, my disappointment gave way to shock on learning that my friend was reading the translated version of Pablo Neruda’s Spanish poems. I was seriously shocked to learn that poems are translated. I though poems can only be accompanied by explanatory notes in various languages as in case of Shakespeare. Aren’t poems supposed to be married to the language? How can anyone separate the two? It is like separating fish from water and all you get is the corpse!!
“An author writes to change the world; A poet writes for the love of the language”- Possession by A.S. Byatt
- Nikos Kazantzakis in Croatian (eu.greekreporter.com)