I just got Orhan Pamuk’s new collection of essays, Other Colors, and I am so excited about it, I can’t wait to dive into it. The review by Michael McGaha in this weekend’s SF Chronicle makes me look forward to it. It’s interesting, too, to read his comments about the translation, by Maureen Freely:
The best thing one can say about Freely’s translation is that it doesn’t read like a translation. If you didn’t know, you would never guess this book had originally been written in a foreign language. Freely’s approach to translation seems to be to think about the meaning of Pamuk’s Turkish and then rephrase the idea in English as she would have expressed it. For example, when Pamuk writes “from now on until the end of my life, I will never smoke a cigarette again,” Freely translates: “I’m never going to smoke again, ever.” The basic idea is there, and Freely’s sentence sounds more natural in English than Pamuk’s, yet something important is lost.
Sometimes her formulations seem to complicate things unnecessarily. When Pamuk writes, “Looking out the window was such a basic habit that when television did come to Turkey, people started looking at it as if they were looking out the window,” the aptly named Freely translates: “Looking out the window was such an important pastime that when television did finally come to Turkey, people acted the same way in front of their sets as they had in front of their windows.” In this case even the meaning seems somewhat distorted, and once again, the poetry of the original is lost. Why not let Pamuk be Pamuk?
You can read the article in full here.