In what I believe is a new twist, writers read in their first language, with a translation projected onto a screen behind them. I applaud this, in theory; in a festival that prides itself on a global outlook, it seems questionable to force readers into English. That said, the projectionist's manic-depressive speeding-up and slowing-down of the scrolling text added a rather surreal dimension to the evening.This would have been such an asset for Francesc Seres, the Catalan writer whose work I wish I understood better. And, much as I enjoyed Eco’s reading, I was really bothered by the fact that the projectionist scrolled through the English at such a breakneck pace that we reached the end of our text a full five minutes before Eco had done reading. If PEN can get this system to really work, with projectionists who speak the language, can follow along, and scroll without making our stomachs lurch, then I think the festival will really stand a chance to become a much richer celebration of World Voices. There is something deeply moving about hearing the writer speak in her own tongue: you get an intuitive connection to them that makes trekking off to auditoriums in parts of Manhattan unknown worthwhile.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
PEN Projections: Translation and Original
I want to underscore my support for this new(ish) plan of having writers read in their native language whilst a screen projects the English words. I am totally with Garth on this one: