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This report is taken from PN Review 138, Volume 27 Number 4, March - April 2001.

Letter from Slovakia James Sutherland-Smith

Last year my wife, Viera, and I seemed to be engaged exclusively in the map-making of the Borges invention cited by John Hartley Williams in his article in PNR 137. Exhaustion was the main result of our labours and sometimes the solace of a reasonable fee was reneged on. Signed contracts, too, can be futile exercises on paper. A useful image for literary translation derived from the Borges image is that translators, as opposed to cartographers, are inclined to suppress an inconvenient mountain and add a river or two in the course of their work. Likewise their creations wear out as the suppressed mountain rips through the paper and the extra rivers are revealed only as so much Indian ink. Our chief labour was on an anthology of twentieth- century Slovak literature in poetry and prose. This is titled One Hundred Years of Slovak Literature and starts with the symbolist poet, Ivan Krasko (born as Ján Botto, 1876-1958), running on to the post-modernist poet, bilingual in Hungarian and Slovak, Peter Macsovszky (born 1966). The anthology was commissioned by the Union of Slovenian Writers as part of the Sixteenth Vilenica Festival in September 2000. Two thousand copies of the anthology in English were printed together with one thousand copies of the same anthology translated from Slovak into Slovenian.

A number of Realist prose writers and the great nineteenth-century poet, Hviezdoslav, who continued working well into the twentieth century were not included. The selection panel for the anthology then ...


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