Topic of the Week
Welcome to a new year with LitChat. Later this month (January 25-29) we’ll have a one-year anniversary week with a reunion of guest hosts who’ve helped make #litchat a fun and informative place to spend an hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
This week in #litchat we’re discussing books that have been translated from one language into another. Literary translation isn’t just changing words from one language to another, it requires the ear of a linguist and the compositional mastery of a writer to ensure the author’s original voice shines through.
On Friday, January 8th, Peter H. Fogtdal, well-known to #litchat followers as @danish_novelist, joins us as guest host. Peter has written 12 novels in Danish. Three have been translated into French, two into Portuguese, one into English, The Tsar’s Dwarf (Hawthorne Books).
According to Peter, the translation of The Tsar’s Dwarf by Tiina Nunnally completely captures the rhythm of his writing in the Danish language. The Tsar’s Dwarf is the story of Soerine, a deformed female dwarf from Denmark, who is given as a gift to Tsar Peter the Great. Smitten by her freakishness and intellect, the Tsar takes her against her will to St. Petersburg, where she becomes a jester in his court. There, she lives a life that both compels and repels her. In this inhospitable milieu, Soerine’s intelligence and detached wit provide her some small measure of protection — until disaster strikes in the shape of a priest who wants to “save” her. You can read the opening chapter excerpt here.
Peter won the Francophonian Literature Prize in 2005 (Le Prix Litteraire de la Francophonie) for Le Front Chantilly (Flødeskumsfronten). He splits his time between Copenhagen, Denmark and teaching literature at Portland State University in Oregon. He maintains an award winning blog DANISH ACCENT that people with bad taste find funny, http://fogtdal.blogspot.com (Peter’s words, not LitChat’s).