Saturday, October 10, 2009


"Nicklas let out a beery belch that reverberated through the churchyard. For a short moment he wondered if she had gone because of the argument they’d had the night before. But he pushed the thought out of his mind again just as quickly as it had appeared. That couldn’t have been it. Amanda had sworn she had forgiven him when he had asked her that same morning. And yet now she had gone off with a bloke she didn’t even know … or did she?
Nicklas emptied the second can in one swill. The beer made him think more clearly, and it occurred to him suddenly how stupid he had been. Of course she knew the bloke. She had said his name … Kristian or Karl, or whatever it was. How stupid he had been. The little bitch had found someone else while he was out bringing in the trawl, thinking about her blond hair and missing her. And it had been so easy for her to keep it from him, because she always knew exactly when he’d be home. The two of them had been screwing. Maybe even in Nicklas’ own bed. He felt a rage coming over him. Of course that was how it was. Now there was a whole load of other things that fell into place all of a sudden: friends acting funny and giving him sly looks down at the pub. They’d know all along she’d been two-timing him. It was always the way. The whole bloody town always knew about that sort of thing before the bloke himself.
He should have seen it coming, he thought to himself. Infidelity was a curse in his family. His grandmother had been a tart. His dad had told him about how she had two of those white china dogs there were so many of in the windows of fishermen’s homes. When they were facing each other, the fancy man could see that Grandad was home, and could stay well away. But as soon as he had put out to sea again, she would turn the dogs to face away, and the fancy man could see it was all clear.
He had heard that his grandmother was sleeping with the dairyman. Grandad had never said as much himself, but his dad had told him so while they were unpacking the china dogs from the case when Nicklas’ mother had been clearing out the house after their deaths. And he had gone out into the yard and smashed the two of them against the flags.
“There’ll be no more funny business with them,” he had told Nicklas’ mother. “You’ll not have things that easy when I’m away.”
Nicklas had never known his mother receive visits from men, but his father was in no doubt they’d been there. He had once yelled that the only way Nicklas’ mother could have afforded her new woolen overcoat was by screwing the builder, just like they all said she’d been doing.
And now it was Nicklas’ turn. A new generation with a two-timing bitch who couldn’t keep an itchy cunt in check while her bloke was at sea. It also explained why Amanda had been acting so strange of late. Bad-tempered and sulky in front of the telly all the time. Not like before, when she used to sing and dance around the living-room for him. Now there were some mornings she just stayed in bed, lying there and pretending to be asleep, even though he could tell she wasn’t. But she buried her head in the pillow and was too lazy to get up.
Nicklas smiled bitterly at the thought of how down he had been when he had got back from the baker’s that morning with the rolls Amanda liked. Now he realised it wasn’t only his fault they’d started arguing. He may have lost control, but she was defintely the one who had started it, all the while she was making plans to run off with her little shite of a boyfriend. But she’d got another thing coming now. He was going to find her alright. If it was the last thing he ever did. He was going to find her and put her in her place and bring her back with a firm, loving hand to Hirtshals where she could once again be the sunshine that kept him warm. He was going to make sure that everything was going to be like before and that she never again would be tempted by another man. And definitely not by that lad she’d gone off with earlier that evening. That little runt was going to regret ever having set eyes on Nicklas Frandsen’s girl. He’d make sure of that.
He sat for a while longer on the bench by Br√łnderslev church, shaking his head at his own stupidity. Then he left through the gates, staggering slightly, and went by the filling station and bought a new six-pack of Special Brew for the journey."

Mette Finderup: 'Blink'.
Extract from draft translation.

(c) Mette Finderup and Gyldendal 2009
Translation (c) Martin Aitken 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

high maintenance

"A decision to involve the author actively in the translation process is not one to be taken lightly, and his or her offer to ‘help out’ or to ‘take a look at the manuscript’ should not be accepted merely out of courtesy. Authors are as individual in temperament and personality as other human beings, if not more so, and there are ‘easy’ authors and, so to speak, ‘high maintenance’ authors. More than one translation project has foundered because of excessive authorial input (read interference).


There are authors like Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who display a commendable awareness of the formidable tasks inherent in literary translation and have only good things to say about those who labor to reproduce their works in other languages.


The potential problem arises when an author thinks he or she is sufficiently fluent in the TL [target language] to judge the translation and even to propose changes in it. (...)

A cautionary tale: a certain Continental author, convinced despite never having written directly in English that his command of the language was beyond reproach, insisted in his contract on having final cut on the translation. Notwithstanding his unavailability for consultation during the actual translation process, which lasted almost a year, he nevertheless minutely pored over the finished manuscript, finally declaring it ‘amateurish and unacceptable’. To the consternation of publisher and translator alike, he demanded either a completely new draft or a different version by another translator. The publisher, faced with an unexpected doubling of translation costs and an inevitable delay in bringing the project to fruition, opted to cut his losses; the book was never published in English."

Clifford E. Landers (2001). Literary Translation: A Practical Guide. Multilingual Matters.