Messengers between the worlds, bridge builder, wordsmiths - translators and translations have become key concepts of our globalized world: they mediate between linguistic and political systems and they are the glue smoothing out the cracks of our global communication.
Where the heavily cited metaphor threatens to degenerate into a slogan, the discussion evenings “Polyglotteries 1 + 2” aim to sharpen the field anew. While Polyglotteries 1 explores the transfer of texts and knowledge over time, Polyglotteries 2 2 takes into consideration translations between different political and moral systems. Both reading and discussion evenings take place in the context of the current price year of the “International Award for Literature – Haus der Kulturen der Welt” – an award drawing attention to foreign languages and international contemporary literary works and especially focusing on the work between languages, on translations.
Transferring over Time
Reading and discussion: Cécile Wajsbrot and Marie Luise Knott
Discussion: Holger Fock and Olaf Kühl
Cécile Wajsbrot’s “L’Hydre de Lerne” tells the story of the failing communication between a demented Holocaust survivor and his daughter: The world of experiences of these generations are opposed to each other, due to illness the older generation looses its knowledge, its memory, its language. The reading with Cécile Wajsbrot in dialogue with the critic and translator Marie Luise Knott discusses family ties and the failing communication between those. In a second part of the evening, the topic is transferred to a broader social level: The translatability of knowledge between generations and through periods of time and the role of translations as an archive will be discussed by Holger Fock, translator from French and connoisseurs of Cécile Wajsbrot’s work, and Olaf Kühl, translator mainly from Polish and translation theorist.
Holger Fock (born in 1958 in Ludwigsburg) is a translator from French and Vice President of CEATL - European Council of Literary Translators Associations. Holger Fock studied theater studies, philosophy and German literature and has been translating French literature since 1983, including André Breton, Théophile Gautier, Pablo Picasso, and Pierre Michon. Together with his wife Sabine Müller, he is translating contemporary authors, such as Cécile Wajsbrot, Andreï Makine, Erik Orsenna, Mathias Énard and Antoine Volodine. In 2011, they both were awarded the Eugen-Helmlé-Übersetzungspreis.
Marie Luise Knott (born 1953 in Cologne) is a critic and translator. For many years, she has been working as editor for publishing houses (1978 - 1986), and she has been the founder and director of the German edition of Le Monde Diplomatique (1995-2006). Since 2006, she has been living as a freelance writer, journalist and translator in Berlin. She writes on contemporary art and literature inter alia for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Deutschlandfunk, Perlentauscher and Tagesspiegel. She is a board member of the German Translators’ Fund (Deutscher Übersetzerfonds). One of her recent publication is: “Verlernen. Denkwege bei Hannah Arendt”, Berlin 2011.
Olaf Kühl (born in 1955 in Sanderbusch) is a literary translator and Russia consultant of the governing mayor of Berlin. He studied Slavic Studies, East European history and Contemporary History at the Free University of Berlin. In 1995, he completed his dissertation on “Stilistik einer Verdrängung. Zur Prosa von Witold Gombrowicz”. Since 1982, Olaf Kühl has been publishing literary translations, mainly from Polish, but also from Russian, Ukrainian and Serbo-Croatian. His translations include works by Witold Gombrowicz, Adam Zagajewski, Andrzej Stasiuk and Dorota Masłowska. His first novel “Tote Tiere” has been released in fall 2011. In the winter term 2011/12, he held the August Wilhelm von Schlegel visiting professorship for the poetics of translation at the Free University of Berlin.
Cécile Wajsbrot (born in 1954 in Paris) is a contemporary French novelist and lives in Paris and Berlin. Cécile Wajsbrot studied comparative literature in Paris and then worked as a French teacher and radio editor. She has translated books from English into French and German, among others Virginia Woolf, Suzan Wicks, Charles Olson, Gert Ledig and Wolfgang Büscher. She was a member of the journals Autrement, Les nouvelles Littéraires and Le Magazine littéraire. Wajsbrot’s novels often have an autobiographical background, e.g. the silence between generations on traumatic events of the past - both in terms of the French and the German postwar history.