Before I arrived in The Hague, I had imagined that I’d let you talk more. I had envisaged asking you during the day to let your thoughts wonder on the subject of translation. After that I would write what I thought you meant, in order to ask you at the end of the column if I’d formulated it right. But in the end I didn’t do that. There were so many impressions every day, that I found it hard enough just to order my own thoughts.
After the crazy days of last week, I’m now back in my house, in my life. I see friends, I phone my parents… Everyone asks how it was. Well… How was it? How can I explain it? How do you translate experiences for people who weren’t there?
I’ll give it a try…
There was a little world in the centre of The Hague.
There was a big family, with six translators and four writers, and Helen, who showed us the way.
There was a hotel and there was a theatre where you often came across the same people, people we knew from the programme booklets.
There were people we admired and people we’d never heard of before.
There were coloured wristbands which granted us admission everywhere.
There were coloured tickets which we could exchange for food and drink.
There were podium moments for almost everyone. Even for the translators.
The writers disappeared every day between two and five. They hid in their rooms to put their thoughts into writing.
The translators disappeared between five and eight, and sometimes later. They hid in their rooms to put the writers’ thoughts into their own languages.
And the next day we were complete once again.
And Helen showed us the way.
I think that was it.
I’m curious as to how it was for you…
Did you find it difficult to meet the deadlines?
Did you sometimes work some more on your translation before going to bed?
Was it exciting for you to read out a piece from my book in English on stage?
Do you find it difficult now to explain everything we did to people at home?
Did you discover good new writers or musicians?
Oh yes, and there were also
and even more dictionaries…
But I didn’t see any.
Did you bring a real dictionary with you?
I think if we were to continue this strange exchange of letters any longer, we would soon be unable to read the words dictionary or lexicon anymore without seeing ‘yes’ and ‘no’ instead. A good time to conclude.
I wish you a pleasant final translation.