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"Between the Covers": Award-winning translator holds workshop at RIT Kosovo

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Award-winning translator Ros Schwartz held a workshop on literary translation called ‘Between the Covers’ with a group of RIT-Kosovo students and faculty on October 28. 2017. Over the past 35 years, Ms. Schwartz has translated over 80 books from French to English.  She has served as Chair of the European Council of Literary Translations and Chair of the English PEN’s Writers in Translation Section, has won numerous individual awards for translation and has been declared a Chevalier d’Honneur et des Lettres for having "significantly contributed to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance."  Earlier this year, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting awarded her the ‘John Sykes Memorial Prize for Excellence’ for her outstanding contribution to the world of translation or interpreting over a long period.

Ms. Schwartz opened the workshop by recounting her path to a career in literary translation from her study abroad experience as a student in Paris and her first translation of I Didn’t Say Goodbye, a book of interviews with holocaust survivors – “les enfants de déportés,” or “children of the deported” - whose parents died in the camps, written by Claudine Vegh, a hidden child who grew up to become a child psychiatrist. 

Participants discussed ‘sticky translation problems’ that demonstrate that literary translation is not a mere technical matter.  It involves the translation on one culture into another as in the differences between the quiet middle class “suburbs” of London and the more troubled “suburbs” or banlieue near Paris that suffer from high unemployment and crime rates among residents from former French African colonies.  They discussed the literary translators’ classic dilemma: whether translation should stick close to original meaning or to convey the music of the original language.  They concluded that each case requires careful consideration.

In the last part of the workshop, participants were able to address six ‘sticky translation problems from Ms. Schwartz’s new translation of Antoine St. Exupery’s classic, The Little Prince, that enabled the students to address decision-making problems in translation and arrive at some impressively successful solutions.  This led Professor Mark Baskin to observe how “these small and informal workshops demonstrate that “in study with a world-class literary translator, RIT-Kosovo students again show their capacity to meet linguistic and cultural challenges of translating the experience of the world to make it meaningful.” 

Among the students who participated in the workshop were Fjolla Qorri, Bind Ahmetaj, Haes Shal Kim, Diar Ramadani, Clirim Sheremeti, Olsa Hoti, Rejsa Kuci, Ermina Karavidaj, Aurora Hyseni, Vesa Goci and Adriana Cekic.

The original article was published on the RIT Kosovo website and can be found here.