30 August 2009

Ah, the memories

Thanks to the English PEN World Atlas, I discovered James Smith's article at Booktrust on the BCLT Summer School, which I attended during a week in July:
I went up to Norwich for a day and a night to get more of an idea of how the summer school operates, and was struck first and foremost by the dedication of those attending: the students (for want of a better word), the workshop leaders, the visiting authors and the organisers.

The workshops are the core of the summer school’s activity. This year, BCLT offered Chinese, French, German and Spanish into English; and English into Italian. The groups, ranging from five to twelve in number, work with an experienced translator to translate passages of a book in the source language, the author of which takes part in the sessions. Flitting from workshop to workshop, I was interested to discover that each group worked in similar and yet different ways.
It would be hard for me to describe exactly how incredible the whole experience was. Led by our fearless leader, Nick Caistor, we embarked upon translating the entirety of Eduardo Berti's short story, "Hugh Williams" (from his first collection, Los pájaros). As the end result was to be read aloud on the last day of the course, the overwhelming task of getting ten translators to agree on each sentence and turn of phrase was eventually focused into the task of creating an oral adaptation. It was a brilliant success. Many of the story's darkly comic elements were somehow highlighted amid the process, provoking laughter in our audience when we finally read it aloud. Thanks to Nick Caistor's unflagging patience and Eduardo Berti's unceasing good humor, we all improved as translators and had an unforgettable week.

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