Olga Tokarczuk is IN. A Dialogue between James W. Underhill and Adam Głaz on Filtering Olga Tokarczuk’s “Tender Worldview” into English during her Nobel Lecture
Keywords:Olga Tokarczuk, Nobel lecture, narration, tender narrator, tęsknić/tęsknota, jestem
In December 2019, Olga Tokarczuk, the Nobel Prize laureate in literature for 2018, delivered the Nobel lecture in her native Polish. It was therefore up to her English translators, Jennifer Croft and Antonia Lloyd-Jones, to relay the laureate’s message to the wider audience. Two linguists and translators, James W. Underhill and Adam Głaz, discuss this Nobel lecture in its broader historical, political, and social context, recognizing Olga Tokarczuk’s position on topical issues, the role she plays in contemporary Poland, as well as the controversies she arouses. But Tokarczuk is predominantly a writer: her lecture is concerned with literature and it is literature. In a masterly fashion, the lauretate champions the creative power of storytelling, explores her notion of the tender narrator, and constructs intriguing analogies. She weaves nuanced semantic networks around the Polish words tęsknić/tęsknota (‘miss/missing’ or ‘long/longing for’) and jestem (‘here I am’). Underhill and Głaz discuss the meanders of the English translation of the lecture, pointing out the challenges that the translators had to face and suggesting alternative ways of coping with them. Through dialogue, they inquire into the nature of translation as an endeavour that is profoundly communicative and interpersonal. They emphasize that Olga Tokarczuk is an important voice; the role of her translators is to make this voice heard worldwide.
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