According to the Brazilian Igor Brito his translation of Pål H. Christiansens novel Drømmer om storhet is being undertaken with great care and affection to all Portuguese language readers in the world. He is trying to approach a language that triggers doubt, curiosity, reflection and inspiration, an invitation to the reader to the universe of words and their various meanings and senses, which is the soul of the book. We had a chat with him just before Christmas about the progress of the work.
– Hi Igor. You have been so kind to work with the translation of Pål H. Christiansens novel Drømmer om storhet in your spare time for a while. Can you give us an update? How much work is left with the translation?
Well, I’ve had a tough time with my teaching responsibilities, other translations, appointments and personal matters that I had to reorganize my schedule. In the meantime, I could read the English and Italian translations of Drømmer om storhet, as well as the original book. It was a profitable and rewarding time because I needed to mature and perfect my skills as a translator, to provide Portuguese language readers a unique experience, honoring the stylistics, pragmatics and symbolism of the three works merged as one, without losing Pål’s essence, which is the seasoning of the Portuguese version for me. From now on I want to work at a good pace. It’s hard to set a deadline for the final result, but I’m working hard to have one chapter done every two or three weeks.
-You have been learning quite a bit of Norwegian during the recent years. Do you find Norwegian difficult? What is really different from Portuguese?
Portuguese is a Romance language and Norwegian is Germanic. They are in different branches of the great tree of language, but they belong to the same root of this tree. Both Portuguese and Norwegian are Indo-European languages, and both suffered great influence of Latin and Greek. I don’t know exactly how each linguistic phenomenon occurred in the course of time, but they share many morphological and phonetic similarities, as seen in words like interessant, trist, gravid, ferie and dozens more, and have similar isochrony in their syllables. I’d not say difficult is the right word. I consider written Norwegian more tangible than spoken Norwegian. Learners need some time to master listening skills.
– What challenges have you met in the translation of the novel?
When a literary work is translated into another language, it is necessary to use many linguistic resources, since every language has its own way of expressing themselves. That’s when stylistics, pragmatics and symbolism come in because there are parameters or paradigms, and nuances that may or may not sound good to a certain word, phrase or even a whole thought compared to the other language.
– Can you describe why this novel should be interesting for the Portuguese reading audience?
Drømmer om storhet has Waaktaar-Savoy as the core and foundation for the unfolding of the plot, highlighting his mastery with words and how he was the driving force and inspiration for the turning point in Hobo’s life. In particular, Brazilians have huge admiration for Waaktaar-Savoy’s work, and I believe that his image linked to a novel will bring attention to Portuguese language readers, not only in Brazil, but also other Portuguese speaking countries.
-Apart from the Waaktar-Savoy theme, what qualities in the novel would you point at for any reader of fiction as such?
Pål H. Christiansen and Hobo seem to be the same persona when you go through the novel. He embodies Hobo’s saga in his writing with such passion and creativity that both seem to have the same dream. We can sum up the novel as the pursuit for dreams through the making of words as an art form as though they were paintings or pottery. Pål was so avant-garde with the stylistics and his own features in the book that it would make a very sophisticated prose-poetry work. Without any doubt, Drømmer om storhet is source of inspiration for anyone who can make life worth living and has the words as a mighty weapon to create or change anything for better.
– It still remains to find a publisher for the work. What are the chances in Brazil you think?
Perhaps this question is the most difficult of all. A short-term speculation would be dishonest of my own. In this digital age, you need to analyze a number of pros and cons, and cost-benefit to release a physical book, especially in the case of Brazil, which has very little appeal and incentive to the purchase of books. For now, my intention is to publish chapter by chapter on social networks and spread the work, to see the public acceptance. Once the translation is completed and proofread, we’ll see what happens.