Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Great Horse 13 - Greek translation by Anna Vasileiadi-Dardalis

This week the Muse is delighted to introduce Anna Vasileiadi-Dardalis, who translated "I am the Great Horse" into Greek for the fabulous Greek language edition pictured here.
Anna is also an author herself, so Katherine was very excited when she agreed to an interview. This is what she has to say about the Great Horse and translating books into other languages...

KR: Since I do not read Greek myself, I find the Greek edition very mysterious. When you translate a book, do you translate it word for word or edit the text as you go?

ANNA: I suppose you must be feeling the same way I feel when I read Japanese – or even German! They say that a translation is like a woman… hasn’t to be faithful in order to be good.

Of course there are differences between two languages. Being an author myself, I feel that need of keeping as strict to the original text as I can. At the same time, by reading the book as from the first time, I try to sink in the original author’s mind – you, at this particular case – and find out/imagine the facts, the sentiments, the pictures that are to be expressed. In that perspective, I sometimes have to use synonym words or phrases of my own language and literature that give the exact same feeling to the Greek readers.

As an author and a literature translator, I can say – and I think that many agree in that – that translating a literature book is more difficult than writing one. Because, one has to respect some other person’s way of expressing, and express at the same quality level of the original text.

KR: I am aware that English titles often get changed in translation... how did "I am the Great Horse" translate into Greek?

ANNA: It’s true that we often have to change the titles so that are well accepted by the local readers and draw their attention as well. With this book, we didn’t need to do anything. The title was just there! Alexander was Great and his horse could not be but the Great Horse. So we kept the title exactly as it is – in the Greek language of course.

KR: The golden Greek cover is very beautiful! Were you involved in its design at all?

ANNA: Yes, it’s lovely, isn’t it? It took us enough time to make it. The truth is that I’m involved in almost everything. Both the publisher and I had a specific picture in our minds on what the Great Horse should look like on the cover. Black, shiny, furious, strong, forceful… simply the best! It took some different pictures by our illustrator until he deeply understood what we had in mind, and the final one was this. A papyrus on the background and golden letters on the title, and everything seemed perfect! I feel that he’s done a great job – although I was a headache in the meantime.

KR: I believe you were interviewed about the Great Horse on Greek TV... is this normal when you translate a book, and what was the experience like?

ANNA: Well… you cannot actually say it normal. It depends on who finds out the work and whether he likes it, or who people one knows. It was not one of the major TV channels but too many people watch it all over Greece. And it was not only one channel, but four different interviews in three different channels. It gave the book some publicity, I must admit. And it was an interesting experience anyway.

Click here to watch one of Anna's interviews.

KR: You are also translating my Seven Fabulous Wonders series, which are written in the third person (using "he" and "she"), rather than the first person (using "I") like the Great Horse... does this make them easier or more difficult to translate?

ANNA: To be honest… no, I can’t find any difference. It’s almost the same. Maybe because of the fact that I’m writing my own books and I have the ability to handle both cases… I don’t know. But the truth is that the Seven Fabulous Wonders are as exciting as the Great Horse to me.

KR: The Great Horse is a long book, which has put off some foreign language publishers from buying rights... did its length cause you any special problems?

ANNA: It’s a fascinating story, easy to read, great humor, lot of sensitivity… I think it’s really amazing and in fact, I didn’t want it to end!

KR: Do you prefer writing books or translating them?

ANNA: They are different but I like both. You know how it is to create something as an author, so you can understand my feeling. On the other hand, being an author gives me the opportunity to “create” as a translator, too, and give the original text the literary standard that it deserves. So it’s as exciting.

KR: Finally, if you could pick any book in the world to translate, which one would it be?

ANNA: The Great Horse… again!!!

Thank you very much, Anna! The Muse sends you an amphora of unicorn glitter.

Visit Anna's website to find out more about her books (if you don't speak Greek, click on the English flag to translate).

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