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This report is taken from PN Review 139, Volume 27 Number 5, May - June 2001.

Letter from Slovakia James Sutherland-Smith

Translation, translation, translation! Besides the anthology, One Hundred Years of Slovak Literature, that I wrote about in the previous Letter, Viera and I also worked on a series called an Album of Slovak Literature. This is a series of laminated A3 cards with a small photograph, a biography, bibliography, critical remarks and the writer's comments on his or her art on one side and extracts from the writer's work on the other side. The series has already appeared in German and is edited by Milan Richter, poet, diplomat and multilinguist. The work came immediately after we'd finished the bulk of our work on the anthology and with respect to the critical remarks was somewhat less hard going. We also translated a film script, a kind of Slovak 'Braveheart' on the life of the Slovak folk hero, Juraj Janosík, for which, despite being requested to complete inside a month, was not paid for until eight months later. Film script work is by far the easiest form of translation, consisting of numerous scenes of short narrative and description and short dialogues. However, it's not a very secure way of adding to one's income and one's care with regard to matching translated dialogue to original, use of appropriate register and finding happy instances of equivalent idioms is invariably rendered futile when the film company gets its hands on one's translation. With one film, a version of a children's medieval adventure story by Jozef Ciger Hronský called Thomas the Falconer, I thought our ...

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