Venelin Proikov: Translators are not jealous

Venelin Projkov in Sofia, 12.2011. Photo by Svoboda Tzekova.

Anton Staykov: Do you beleive there is such a thing as a faultless translation?

Venelin Proikov: Well, every translation is just a translation, not the original. However, one has to do his best. My mother translated many literaly texts from French, and I remember very well how she took pains to edited her own texts, as well as she when she edited translations done by others. For myself, I try to do my first version well, so that there will be only a minimum number of errors to correct.

A.S. Do you consider an author you have translated for a number of years to be yous friend?

V.P. In my case, this is the situation with Rene Gosciny, the author of the Asterix comics series and the series of stories about little Nicholas. I like his verbal tricks and am well acqainted with them, and I do my best to always find a humorous Bulgarian equivalent for them. This is a difficult, yet extremely satisfying task. I have also sensed such a relationship during my work on the five Jean Cocteau plays that I have translated.

A.S. Does the translator become jelous when someone re-looks at texts that he or she has already translated?

V.P. I am not aware that anyone has been jelous of me, nor have I been jelous of anyone else. One of Cocteau’s plays that I translated, Les Parents terribles (The Awful Parents) has also been translated by the actress Tatiana Masalitinova; Silvya Wagenstein has translated som eof the stories about little Nicolas. A translation is not the original; some competition between translators is not a bad thing when we are talking about great authors.

A.S. What is the funniest incident in your experience as a translator?

V.P. Well, I could mention a blunder of mine in my translation of the Les Parents Terribles. The text was about “Lorenzaccio”, a play by Alfred de Musset about Lorenzo de Medici. When I translated the play, I transcribed the “z” in the little “Lorenzaccio” to sounds as it does in French, not as “ts” as it sounds in Italian.

A.S. Translating for children is probably entertaining, but it is also an important responaibility.

V.P. Of cource it is. I was fortunate enough to translate two children’s books in the past: Remi et le fantome by Colette Vivier and The Little Nicholas, a selection of stories by Rene Gosciny. At that time it seemed totally natural to me, since I was quite close to my childhood years. Now, however, I am careful and take great pains not to show that I;m quite removed from those years. When the characters are children the language they speak must be consistent with theur age, and it must also be correct because the young reader is still learning how to explain him or herself.