Monday, October 14, 2013

Toby in Italian

Later this month, the Italian publisher Einaudi will release their new edition of Pyg, as translated by Carla Palmieri. I was delighted to see that they retained the essential design of the original Canongate hardcover edition, with a few subtle changes -- of course, since the letters PYG don't work as a double-entendre in Italian, they (as did the Swedish publishers) changed it to TOBY. I was also pleased to see that the translator chose 'sapiente,' with its period connotations and Latin roots, and (just for fun) they added my PhD. after my name. My Italian being very limited, I can't really assess the book myself, though I hope to pass copies along to friends who are fluent/native speakers, and will look forward to their reaction. Many authors seem to me unexcited about their translations, but for me there could be no greater pleasure -- the translator, after all, has the unique task of ferrying meaning from the shores of one language to another (both ferry and translate share a root in the Latin fero/tuli/latus), and there is no other reader -- not even myself -- who has more carefully parsed out the various shades and shadows of meaning than a translator. I also love to think on how an edition in another language is, in a sense, entirely new -- and how it will garner the attention of an entirely new set of readers, readers with whom I would otherwise be powerless to communicate in their native tongue. And as to Italian -- which I'll always think of as the language of Dante -- I can't imagine a more fortuitous and fruitful shore upon which to arrive.