Treading a Fine Line: On Translating Tove Ditlevsen’s Gift, by Michael Favala Goldman

On Translation Browsing a Copenhagen airport bookstore, a translator picks up a book. The journey between that impulse and his eventual translation of the memoir into English was both emotional and serendipitous. In the summer of 2016 I was passing through Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen with my wife, on our way home after a visit with family. We stopped to browse the bookstore, and I noticed a reprint of a book by Danish author Tove Ditlevsen called Gift, which had first been published in 1971. I hadn’t read much of her work, but I knew she was a big name, so I bought it, even though the cover was strange, a psychedelic skull on a gray background. It did not take more than a couple of sittings to devour this memoir of Tove Ditlevsen’s life from the ages of about twenty-three to thirty-five. It chronicles her rise as a best-selling author, while she also had four failed marriages, two back-alley abortions, and a five-year near-fatal addiction to the opioid Demerol. I distinctly remember laying the book down after the final page and thinking to myself, I think this is a masterpiece. This was an intuitive judgment, not a conclusion I had come to after analyzing the text. But looking back now, I think what caused me to deem this work a masterpiece is the combination of Ditlevsen’s writing style, which is concise, honest, and ironic, combined with the content of her story, which through her many troubling experiences pulls back the... Continue reading at 'World Literature Today'

[ World Literature Today | 2021-04-06 13:12:22 UTC ]
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