This collection of retranslated translations amounts to a patchy literary version of Chinese whispersMultiples, a new book edited by the novelist and critic Adam Thirlwell, seeks to undermine the idea of the original in literary translation. As Thirlwell states in the introduction, he wants to “politely frazzle” the “whole category of the original”. This echoes his previous views on translation. In his 2007 book Miss Herbert, he sketched out a ludic novelistic tradition including Laurence Sterne, Denis Diderot and Vladimir Nabokov. His study concluded that, in novelistic terms, style transcended language and that therefore “it is possible to translate a story whose language the translator does not speak”.First published in McSweeney’s in 2012, Multiples tests the elasticity of that principle. Thirlwell has selected 12 stories whose originals (which are not printed) are variously written in Danish, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, German, Arabic, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Italian, Hungarian, English and Italian again. Ten stories are first translated into English, the other two into German and Spanish. The first translation is translated, and then the subsequent translation is translated again. The translators only see the preceding version of the story. The longest chains contain six translations, though every other version is in English. Thirlwell …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books