Authors and translators/Autoren und Übersetzer

Gail at Open Brackets has an entry on the exchanges between authors and their translators:

bq. So I’ve decided that, even if nobody else would want to read it, a collection of the correspondence between authors and their translators would make for a fine and fascinating book.

My eye was caught by a series of questions sent to Alan Bennett by the German translator of his possibly not immortal play ‘Kafkas Dick’ and contained in Bennett’s diaries:

bq. Q. Who is Nurse Cavell, a figure from a movie or a play? I think I know her, but I cannot remember from where.
A. You shot her

bq. Other questions:
‘For a long time I used to go to bed early.’ This Proust quote, where?
Ivy-Compton-Burnett: who or what is that?
Gas oven: do you mean the gas chamber of the Nazis or the kitchen stove which is used for suicide?
Altar: do you mean marriage or sacrifice?

I think the last two questions are OK, or at least the last one is, depending on the context. But the others seem to be ones a translator would research rather than ask the author, and the Proust one is the most famous Proust sentence of all.

So I asked myself: I wonder if I know this translator? Google helps out – the play was translated as ‘Kafkas Franz’ and the perpetrator was Max Goldt, who is rather well known as a writer in his own right, although I haven’t been able to get on with his stuff. Here is an article on Goldt from the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

bq. Zu Max-Goldt-Lesungen geht man mitunter wie zu einer besonders schicken Party. Lieber als an irgendwelchen Szenetreffpunkten würde der Dichter deshalb im Theater vorlesen – “aber das kommt wohl ohnehin irgendwann, wenn ich älter werde”. Fürs ganz reale Theater hat Max Goldt übrigens im Vorjahr das ziemlich anstößige Stück “Kafkas Dick” von Alan Bennett übersetzt, die deutschsprachige Erstaufführung wurde im Vorjahr irgendwo in Wien auf die Bretter gewuchtet. “Aber Theater fände ich eigentlich nur interessant”, sagt der Künstler wiederum ganz ohne Ironie, “wenn ich das Geschriebene selber spielen und inszenieren könnte. Ich würde das sicher besser auf die Bühne bringen als jeder Berufsregisseur oder Schauspieler.”

Goldt would only find theatre interesting if he could act and direct everything.

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