Translation as Activism

Herta Müller’s translator, Philip Boehmon, on imagination as the key to empathy.

“Herta Müller shows people caught up in a linguistic world where the language doesn’t match the reality. In a way, for her, there is a kind of primal echo from when she was little, when she encountered words that not only did not match reality but actually masked it or were in opposition to reality, and were thus loaded with all sorts of potentially ‘lethal content.’ She was used to living with that tension and it is something she portrays very well in her characters.”

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“Translation is a bridge that serves to enlarge imagination, to connect to the world. We’re impoverished without it. As translators we are both diplomats and activists. The sheer act of translation is one of engaging with a world outside of whatever world we’re in.”

SOURCE: Hofmann, Jennifer-Nahomi. “Translation as Activism: An Interview with Philip BoehmLiterary Hub.

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