So I teach this wonderful literary translation class at NYU fully online asynchronous and it is my place of normalcy right now. Being a virtual world where I have been together with my students since January, we are in a bubble of calm there to which the outside world has little access. As often as I can, I go to our class and luxuriate in how much fun we continue to have in the class.
One of our recent activities was to find a translation of Jaques’ monologue from As You Like It in our respective source languages and compare word for word, phrase for phrase how well the translator was able to recreate the spirit of one of Shakespeare’s greatest speeches. The title of the play in Chinese is 皆大欢喜 which means “everyone is happy.” In Arabic, the title is علي هواك. What did the translators do with “bubble reputation,” “capon lined,” and “shrunk shank?” The French translator had it easy with the last line. The student who translates from Arabic, Mariam, pointed out that the translator, for the word “man” in the third line–“And one man in his time plays many parts”–had used a more inclusive gender-neutral term in Arabic: امريء. In our translation class we don’t pay too much attention to what is lost in translation, but pay a great deal of attention to what is found.
Here is Mariam reading Jaques’ “All the World’s A Stage” speech in Arabic. It is so beautiful to hear.
As we hunker down, might I suggest a little reading at the dinner table of “All the World’s A Stage” in whatever language you please?
And from our endlessly inventive and allegrissimi Italian friends: The Great Escape
And last but not least, check out my sister blog (quite literally). Martha and I will be co-posting country mouse/city mouse style since she has decamped to our childhood home in New Jersey where she will be looking after my mother, who has dementia. I wrote about her a while ago in Modern Love but I’m sure she will feature prominently in our Silver Linings as she is, despite it all, a silver lining for us.