Tag Archives: Translated literature

Marking International Women’s Day II: Eugenia l’ingegnosa

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EUGENIALINGEGNOSA_bassa (1)

Following on from last night’s story of the princess who was too busy studying to accept a marriage proposal, I’d like to present this little gem – Eugenia l’ingegnosa (Eugenia the Ingenious) as part of my celebration of female protagonists, female authors (Anne Wilsdorf), and female-run indy presses (Sinnos Editrice). Oh, I do love a story with a positive takeaway. Not only is it a bargain (two things for the price of one) it’s also excellent for girls to see different role models in their books. You know, princesses are nice, but they don’t always have to be marrying princes.

So, this book’s about Eugenia. Eugenia lives alone with her family on Nascondoni Island. Until she discovers another island – Nonsodove – that looks far more interesting.  Eugenia wants to go there. She tries with a plank of wood first, and fails. She tries again with a sort of floating bridge, and fails. Try and try again, Eugenia finally makes it to the island.  All sorts of things happen there, the most important of which are making lots of new friends and discovering she has a skill for building things. 

Suffice it to say this this is not a book about princesses and pink ribbons. If you want your little girl reading stories about building bridges and revelling in the wonders of the world around us, then this is the book for her. It’s definitely going on my list of books to take into schools and libraries, translate into English and maybe stick under someone’s (publisher person’s) nose. But for now, I’m sticking it under yours as I mark International Women’s Day. 

The idea for this story came from a group of feisty female engineers and architects in Switzerland who have been fighting for women’s rights for years. “We want our book to encourage girls to be curious and not settle for the games and toys they’re supposed to play with just because they’re girls.” Valérie Ortlieb, spokesperson for the group, said, “We  need to give girls activities and models of women that they can identify with. So that when they grow up and start thinking about who inspired them, they’ll think of a woman.” 

Switzerland (and Italy) both have a gender problem in the professional, technical world. Girls make up 50% of students in Architecture faculties but ten years later, that figure drops to 20%.  Maybe if we start our daughters, nieces, grand-daughters or friend’s children reading empowering stories like these when they’re young, they maybe we can inspire the confidence and self-belief to make it where society in general expects/wants/forces them to fail.

Proverbi Abruzzesi – 3 – Power struggles

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Scottish Enlightenment

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had time to think about this blog. My head’s been full of all sorts of other stuff, like Scotland nearly becoming independent and the reawakening of a nation to claim its identity and voice within the United Kindgom. Oh and work too.  There’s been quite a lot of that too.

For anyone following me on Facebook, you might have noticed a slight surge in the number of political posts I’ve been tacking up on my timeline. Yes, I’m one of those people who were energized by the referendum campaign, one of the sleeping electorate who finally woke up to smell the (burnt) coffee of national and international politics.

Happily, my  own personal Scottish enlightenment has involved a lot of reading too, both online and in books. When I don’t understand something, I go straight to a book in search of answers, or when I’m reading for pleasure, I constantly come across things that tie into real-life experience, shedding light on it or expressing it perfectly in words.  Nothing really changes in human nature.  We just keep doing the same old things, and since many great writers of the past saw it all before us, we just have to look to their words for help in understanding what we’re still seeing today.

Books are always the answer

Like last night, flicking through Michael Rosen’s version of Aesop’s Fables, I picked the story of the wolf and the lamb to read to my little person. As we got to the moral of the story, I couldn’t help thinking how well it described the abuse slung at the Yes campaign during the Scottish referendum and the ability of the other side (the No people) to come up with all sorts of excuses to  deny their own behaviour and still bring the other side down. Fast forward to the current UK general election and press repeat.  Each side pedalling dreams and ridiculing the other side’s vision as lies.

aesopsfablesint

But since this blog is supposed to be about Italian literature, I’d better stay on topic and get back to the lingo of my adopted land: Italiano/Abruzzese.

There’s nothing better than an Italian proverb for hitting the nail on the head.

Local Abruzzo dialect: 

Non créde a suònne, ca le suònne ‘nganne

Italian: Non credete ai sogni, perché ingannano. 

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Multilingual Blogging Day 2013 – Secret Language Series 3

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Thanks for checking back in for Episode 3.

This post is going to discuss one of the secrets of translated fiction, the “to foreword or not to foreword” question; well, for two Pescara authors anyway: Paolo Di Vincenzo, who I’ve been chatting to in previous posts, and a new entry on this blog post, Marcello Nicodemo.   Marcello has already published four novels: Nel Fuoco (alla fine del sogno), Di li’ a poco sarebbe piovuto, Ferragosto in Famiglia, e Voci del Purgatorio which I’ll be covering in more detail in coming weeks.

But before I ask Paolo and Marcello how they feel about literature in translation, what about you?

I’ve just finished a webinar with Oliver Lawrence on how to translate for the travel and tourism industry, and the distinction he drew between the types of reader her translates for – travellers and tourists – made me think of the to foreword or not to foreword debate in translated fiction. When you read a book translated from another language and cultural context, are you looking for the authentic experience and want to find your way around the new context by yourself – so no foreword- or are you one of those people who gets the guidebook and studies it from cover to cover before setting off, like you would with a foreword?

In translated literature, as in world travel, some people prefer to go off the map, while others go for the risk reduction option, safe in the knowledge that there won’t be any surprises.

Tourist or traveller?

Tourist or traveller?

So, are you a tourist or a traveller when it comes to translated fiction?  Should cultural context be served up on a plate, or should the reader be allowed to explore it, completely off the map??

I asked both authors,  …in Italian.

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Multilingual Blogging Day 2013: Secret Language Series 2

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Thanks for checking back in for another instalment of the Secret Language Series for Multilingual Blogging Day 2013

Who dunnit? Not telling!!! 

To find out who got the gold in Il Mistero dell’Oro di Dongo, you’ll probably have to read the book, sorry! But in the meantime, I’ve become a bit of a sleuth myself, and managed to put my second language skills to good use, as I contacted the author, Paolo di Vincenzo, for a chat. 

Ci sono molto vantaggi di avere una seconda lingua, il primo ovviamente e’ poter leggere dove era e chi ha trovato l’Oro di Dongo! Mi dispiace, io non ve lo posso svelare (rovinerebbe la sorpresa, adesso che avete acquisto il libro!) ma ho pensato di mettere la mia seconda lingua e vostro disposizione, per riportare qualche notizia direttamente dal autore stesso, Paolo Di Vincenzo.

In verita’, avrei potuto fare a meno di tirare fuori quest’arma letale (il mio italiano!) perche’ anche Paolo ha una seconda lingua: inglese!

Pazienza, come dicono in Italia, la vita e’ bella e andiamo avanti cosi. 

Introducing Paolo Di Vincenzo

paolo di vincenzo

Paolo’s writing has a very journalistic feel to it, having worked in the news industry for more than 27 years.

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2013 Multilingual Blogging – Secret Language Series – 1

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Segreti, in un’altra lingua 

C’e’ un segreto da scoprire.. ed e’ grande, molto grande.  E con la mia seconda lingua, Italiano, vorrei cercare di entrare dove di solito non posso andare con l’inglese…in un  libro in italiano. Scritto da un autore di Pescara che ho conosciusto al recente Festival delle Letterature di Pescara.  Un libro che ha a che fare con un personaggio altrettanto grande della storia d’Italia… anzi due,  il fondatore del fascismo e dittatore italiano Benito Mussolino e Gabriele D’Annunzio, poeta e scrittore  Pescarese, nonche’ politico e giornalista.

Che c’entra l’uno con l’altro? E’ perche’ sono i personaggi principali di un romanzo giallo che porta il lettore in un viaggio alla conoscenza del Mistero dell’Oro di Dongo?

Andiamo a scoprire.  

Detective Denise Secret language series Looking at literature

Detective Denise
Secret language series
Looking at literature

Myth and mystery.. in another language

Well, this mystery that I’m going to try and solve with my super second language at the ready is so big,  it could change the course of European history as we know it.

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2013 Multilingual Blogging Day

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Speaking a second language… what’s that all about?

Today it’s about Multilingual Blogging, Internet Week Europe and highlighting the multilingual dimension of the web.

The rest of the time it’s normally just work for me, but for my 8-year old… it’s much, more more ……..

Compiti d'Italiano Testo Narrativo.  M. Di Nella, 8 anni

Compiti d’Italiano
Testo Narrativo.
M. Di Nella, 8 anni

Ooh, speaking English, my daughter’s first-second-first language (not sure, she’s bilingual) is like a secret language for her. That makes it sound quite magical (or cloak and dagger, depending on your point of view), but however you see it, the sense is definitely one of getting special entry to a world and to information that would otherwise be inaccessible. 

Speaking a second language, or reading a book in a translated language, opens up new worlds and makes you feel at home in strange lands. And it can set a child’s imagination on fire, as Philip Pullman states in the foreword to Outside In’sChildren’s Books in Translation” publication and as my daughter told her teacher in last night’s homework. She feels like she has special powers, she feels special, that’s certainly got to rate high on the what-to-give-your-child for Christmas list! A second language.

Chiedere …. sempre in incognito

Allora, cogliendo lo spirito da detective di mia figlia, usero’ la mia seconda lingua,  italiano, per indagare un po’ sulla letteratura e vedere quello che scopro.

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Like history? No. Well the Mussolini mystery’s for you.

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Who likes history? Not me. 

I must admit.. I’ve always found history a bit of a mystery. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I once bought one of those ” History of Everything For Dummies” books in an attempt to get some big dates and important people into my head. But nothing. It just doesn’t work, books full of facts aren’t for me.  Nothing sticks. I was beginning to wonder if I was going about it the wrong way.
I was.
A few years later I stumbled on the historical novel and the penny dropped.   Real places and real people, all knitted together into a made-up story. That was the glue I needed to make it all stick. Maybe there was hope after all.

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Acqua Dolce – a clean&contemporary fairy-tale for young solo readers

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ACQUA DOLCE by Andrea Bouchard, published in the Italian by Adriano Salani Editore.

ACQUA DOLCE … the water baby, is a heart-warming and magically realistic tale about a girl born in the magical waters of an enchanted island in an exotic, faraway land when her father and pregnant mother jump out of a plane into the bewitching waters below. True to the tradition of tragicomic opening scenes, the mum’s parachute doesn’t open leaving her hurtling – tummy and all – towards the sea, and magically, on landing she finds that the sea is not salty, it is fresh water. Ergo Acqua Dolce, the beautiful, blue-eyed water baby, born – as if by miracle – in the fresh water.

Acqua Dolce  by Andrea Bouchard

Acqua Dolce
by Andrea Bouchard

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A touching tale about a boy, his grandfather and a cherry tree

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In my previous  post, I wrote about Il Baffo del Diavolo by Sergio Marciani, a story of hidden forces – the devil in disguise – pulling the strings of society and the administration of local government in a small corner of Abruzzo. From a light-hearted opening featuring children’s games and storytelling around an old oak tree, the tree itself becomes a symbol of something more sinister. Chopped down to serve the wily workings of political minds, or perhaps as the author suggests, the evil intentions of darker forces, the fate of the tree reflects the illness affecting society at large.

mio_nonno_era_un_ciliegioBut in keeping with the yin and yang approach to life and literature that I love so much, I like to think that for every dark force we encounter, if you keep looking there’ll be happier times just round the corner. So after I read about Sergio Marciani’s tree falling prey to the Prince of Darkness in Il Baffo Del Diavolo, I immediately thought about another story – Angela Nanetti’s Il Mio Nonno era Un Ciliegio – a children’s story by the Pescara-based author in which a tree brings joy and light into a little boy’s life.
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Italian books in translation

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There’s lots of life in Italian literature and I’ve decided to bring little nuggets of Italian Literary Life and tips on great Italian books to anyone who enjoys reading in Italian or who would like to help me make my case for some of the chosen texts to be translated into English!

I’m finding Italian fiction pretty exciting at the moment, it’s gotten much more reader-friendly and some fantastic books are making it into translation (for big people see The Parrots (I Pappagalli) and How I lost the War (Come Ho Perso la Guerra) by Filippo Bologna,Enchantment (Incanto) by Pietro Grossi, or the riotious social satire Let the Games Begin (Che la Festa Cominci) by Niccolo’ Ammaniti. For little people there’s the great new Save the Storyseries by Pushkin Children’s featuring some great Italian authors like Alessandro Baricco (withThe Story of Don Juan) and others due out in 2014 (watch this space for children’s stories from Andrea Camilleri, Stefano Benni and a great favourite of mine, Melania Mazzucco). And not forgetting the Marsh award-winner In the Sea there are Crocodiles (Nel mare ci sono i coccodrilli. Storia vera di Enaiatollah Akbari) by Fabio Geda and translated by Howard Curtis.

Being a budding literary translator, I’m obviously always on the lookout for a great wee story that deserves to make it out of Italian and into English, so it can reach a wider public. And if I just so happened to be the one to take on this momentous but fundamentally –  and absolutely necessary of course – task, then that would be just lovely too. But not wanting to get ahead of myself… what I’d like to do is just tell the world about any great books I’ve come across in Italian, and if the world wants to give me a call, well, I’m here. But don’t worry world, I won’t be too upset if it doesn’t happen right away. That’s the good thing about stories, there’s always another, even better one out there that might be my ticket to translation fame and fortune!