Wednesday, July 1, 2009

André Brink

André Brink is one of the most consistent self-translators. He writes his books both in Afrikaans and English. He does not refer to one version as translation, so one can't tell which one is the translation and which one is the original. Because both versions influence each other he prefers to call the process "rewriting" instead of "translating: "However, I do not ‚translate‘ my books. I rewrite them in English or Afrikaans, sometimes alternating chapters and in the process reworking the original in the light of the changes made in the other language. This cross-pollination continues until I say ‚that is enough‘, otherwise I'd never finish a book.“ (Maree 1999, S. 43) André Brink started self-translation because his book Kennis van die Aand was banned in South Africa: „With my work banned, I suddenly found that I had lost my audience, because I only wrote in Afrikaans. So I decided to push things further by translating the novel into English, so it could reach a public outside South Africa.“ (UNESCO 1993).
Research on self-translations by André Brink is rare as far as I know. There is one article by Alet Kruger (2008) and a very interesting master thesis by Ehrlich Shlomit (2007) on André Brink and Dalene Mathee.

For further reading:
Eder, Richard (1980): An Interview with André Brink. In: New York Times, 23.03.1980.

Kruger, Alex (2008): Translation, self-translation and apartheid-imposed conflict. To be published in Language and Politics 2008. Available online.

Maree, Cathy (1999): ‚We can only manage the world once it has been storified‘ – Interview with André Brink. In: Unisa Latin American Report 15:1, S. 43.

Ehrlich, Shlomit "(2007): The Status and Production of Self-Translated Texts: Afrikaans-English as a Case in Point. Master thesis Bar-Ilan University. Available online.

UNESCO (1993): André Brinks talks to Bahgat Elnadi and Adel Rifaat. In: UNESCO Courrier, Sept. 1993,, 20. Dec. 2007.

Wheatcroft, Geoffrey (1982): A talk with André Brink. In: New York Times, 13.06.1982.

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