Critically acclaimed translator and author Peter Wortsman, will give a talk, entitled “Meditation in Translation – Transcending Ego and Transmitting Voice”, in the ARC room at AUP (147 rue de Grenelle); this Monday 24 March at 18:30.
In his talk, Wortsman will discuss translation as a form of internal travel, an encounter with “the other” in oneself. Jakob Grimm, of ‘Grimms’ Fairy Tales’ fame, wrote figuratively of the translator: “Whoever has the talent for navigation, whoever is able to man a ship and lead it with full sail to the opposite shore, still has to land where the air and the soil are different.” In that spirit of assimilating ostensibly alien influences, Wortsman will reflect on the task of the translator.
Wortsman translates from German. His English rendering of Posthumous Papers of a Living Author, by Robert Musil, now in its third edition (Eridanos, 1988; Penguin, 1995; Archipelago Books, 2006—and recently excerpted in Flypaper, Penguin Mini-Classics, 2011), has been called “a classic in itself.” Wortsman is the author of a book of short fiction, A Modern Way to Die (Fromm International, 1991); two stage plays, The Tattooed Man Tells All (2000) and Burning Words (2004); an artists’ book, it-t=i (Here and Now Press, 2005), on which he collaborated with his brother, the artist Harold Wortsman; and travel writing in leading newspapers, journals, and websites, several of which are anthologized in the last four issues of The Best Travel Writing 2008-2011. A former Fulbright and Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow, Wortsman is the recipient of the 1985 Beard’s Fund Short Story Award and the 2008 Geertje Potash-Suhr Prosapreis of the Society for Contemporary American Literature in German. His short fiction appeared most recently in the Spring 2011 issue of The Berlin Journal, and his latest nonfiction was published, in German translation, in the April 2011 issue of Cicero, Magazin für politische Kultur. He also recently published essays in Die Welt and Die Zeit. The project he worked on while at the Academy, an anthology he compiled and translated, with the working title “The Singing Bone, Enigmatic Tales of the German Imagination” will be published in 2013 by Penguin Classics, Penguin UK.