Breon Mitchell has won the Schlegel–Tieck Prize for translation from German for his new version of The Tin Drum by Günter Grass. The TLS:
Günter Grass’s first novel, Die Blechtrommel, was published in 1959 and Ralph Manheim’s translation of it in 1962. In 2005, Grass invited his new translators on a tour of the city of Gdańsk, where (as Danzig) the novel is set. According to Breon Mitchell, who wins this year’s Schlegel-Tieck for his new version of The Tin Drum (582pp. Harvill Secker. £20. 978 1 846 55317 2), “on that summer day in Gdańsk, translators both old and new had gathered once again with a special goal in mind – new translations to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Die Blechtrommel”. While paying proper homage to Manheim, Mitchell points out that “each sentence in the new Tin Drum now faithfully replicates the length of the sentence in Grass’s original text, and no sentences are broken up or deliberately shortened”. Eschewing the smoothing out which some translators are prone to (perhaps for fear of appearing too literal), Mitchell singles out an example of his method: “He was also the Formella brothers’ boss, and was pleased, as we were pleased, to meet us, to meet him” (Manheim: “He was also the Formella brothers’ boss and was glad to make our acquaintance, just as we were glad to make his”). As Mitchell says, he has “sometimes placed the sound and rhythm of a sentence above normal syntax and grammar”, while honouring a “syntactic complexity that stretches language”. The results will certainly have met with Grass’s approval. Mitchell also provides an extensive glossary.
So what was the original German?
Auch war er der Chef der Formella-Brüder und freute sich, wie wir uns freuten, uns kennengelernt, ihn kennengelernt zu haben.
Fair enough. I found that on scribd and wonder how long it will be up there.