US bowdlerization of children’s book/Rotraut Susanne Berner und die USA

Pimmel_3_DW_Kultur__312406g.jpg

Something in this picture was too much for Boyds Mills Press in the USA. They wanted to publish a translation of Rotraut Susanne Berner’s children’s book, but without this picture and another picture of a nude, both exhibits in an art gallery. The author insisted on the censorship being made obvious, for example by the pictures being blacked out, so it seems the book is unlikely to appear. Die Welt writes:

Erst im Februar hatten US-Bibliotheken ein preisgekröntes Kinderbuch aus ihren Regalen verbannt, weil auf der ersten Seite das Wort „scrotum“ (Hodensack) vorkam. Zuvor geriet selbst „Harry Potter“ wegen angeblicher Bezüge zum Satanismus unter Beschuss der selbst ernannten Sittenwächter.

Author’s nude drawings too hot for US publisher, from the Independent.
Kein deutscher Mini-Penis für die USA, from Die Welt (with 4 illustrations).

LATER NOTE: for visitors from the Absolute Write Water Cooler, here’s the other offending picture:

Pimmel_1_DW_Kultur__312404g.jpg

This subject is generating as much traffic as my old entry on how IKEA names its furniture.

Literary translators continued/Literaturübersetzerstreit

The discussion about the payment of literary translators continues, for example in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. in an article by Joachim Güntner headed Notwendige Unterbezahlung? This remark strikes me:

Wenn ein gefragter Übersetzer wie Burkhart Kroeber klagt, «wir müssen von etwa 1000 Euro pro Monat leben», dann ruiniert er nicht nur seine eigene Glaubwürdigkeit, sondern die der ganzen Zunft. Zweifellos gibt es Übersetzer in Armut, denen eine bessere Bezahlung von Herzen zu wünschen ist. Aber es riecht aufdringlich nach Propaganda, immer die Unterprivilegierten vorzuschicken, von denen mit gutem Auskommen aber zu schweigen.

The question is: do literary translators really only earn 1,000 euros per month – does this claim deprive them of their credibility?

That’s the trouble with being a disadvantaged minority – no-one believes you!

By the way, some conflicting definitions:

literary translator 1) someone who translates novels, plays, poems, short stories – literature.
2) someone who translates for publishers, not just literature in above sense.

technical translator 1) (older) someone who translates everything except novels, plays, poems, short stories etc.
2) (newer) someone who translates texts about technology, as opposed to a legal translator, finance translator, medical translator etc.

And while I’m at it:
linguist 1) someone who speaks at least one foreign language fairly well
2) someone who studies or teaches linguistics

We’re talking about translators of literature in sense 1) here, which I’m not one of.

Another question raised is whether it’s right for translators to earn more than authors. Most non-translators think that doesn’t sound good.

Finally, a quote from an article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung by Brigitte Grosse, which doesn’t seem to be available online:

Die gestiegenen Kosten beim schwächsten Glied der Kette, den Übersetzern
nämlich, wieder hereinholen zu wollen, ist so unredlich, als würde ein
Manager, der sich verspekuliert hat, das Geld an der Putzfrau einsparen
wollen. Mit einem großen Unterschied: Urheber und Verwerter brauchen
einander, um ihr Metier überhaupt ausüben zu können.

(We don’t need cleaners, of course?)

LATER NOTE: Links, including a radio broadcast from Deutschlandradio Kultur (the strangely renamed Deutschlandradio Berlin), at Text & Blog.

German literary translators in the press/Die SZ und die Literaturübersetzer

An article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on 2 February 2007 by Thomas Steinfeld, the editor of the arts pages, is no longer available except for subscribers: Ein Haus für Rechthaber.

It’s described in an article by Burkhard Kroeber on perlentaucher.de. Apparently Steinfeld says the huge decline in literary translations into German over the past year is directly attributable to the desire of literary translators for more money: they see their work only as a financial and bureaucratic reality and give no thought to ‘cultural dialogue’, its most important feature.

Further reactions by literary translators can be found on the website of the VdÜ, the professional association for literary translators.

(Via …is a blog)