Stimme und Stimmung: Translating H.G. Adler

Peter Filkins


The translation of H.G. Adler’s novel Eine Reise makes particular demands upon the translator that require one to consider how to render what is not being said as much as, if not more than, what is spoken in the text itself. Given Adler’s urge to “bear witness to the existence of the lost ones” in the tale of his own journey to Theresienstadt, and eventually Auschwitz, the translator faces the dilemma of how to render the interior world of nameless characters whose interior lives are neither validated nor recognized by their oppressors. Hence, one is forced to both render each separate voice (Stimme) that narrates the text, and the state of mind or mien (Stimmung) that sets those voices to speaking. The result is a “reading” of the original that performs the effect of Adler’s writing as much as it translates the words themselves. (PF)

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