I’m hoping to cheat some more this weekend by applying the ‘Offspring long arm’ technique to another blog post. So here we have Son at an event the same evening as I covered Oldham and Daughter met up with the Fife sheep farmer, making us all busy with books. Which is what matters.
Over to my in-house translator:
‘On Thursday evening a group of people braved the cold and dark to find Seminar Room 2 in the University of Edinburgh’s Chrystal Macmillan building. I opted to collect a coffee on the way, so had already run into the speaker – Daniel Hahn – topping up his caffeine levels from the Doctor Who tardis purveyor of coffee. The previous seminar was still going on, so we loitered outside, and the would-be audience and old friends alike took the opportunity to corner Danny.
Danny’s task was to talk about his translation of Stella Dreis’ picture book Happiness is a Watermelon on Your Head. Ever the great storyteller and public speaker, Danny did this with gusto. First he took us through the original book in Portuguese, providing a literal translation of what was going on and highlighting particular elements of Dreis’ fantastic artwork. He told us about the things that he liked – apart from the wonderful pictures, obviously – with particular emphasis on Melvin the boar.
Some of the downsides were the slightly odd style of the story and its selective plot. Danny accurately pinpointed that the story mainly had been written to justify the phenomenal artwork. He described his initial translation process, and getting a lukewarm reception from his publisher. It was clear that the story was a bit flat, and there wasn’t enough of Melvin.
In response to a request for a freer translation, Danny asked whether he might be allowed to produce a translation in rhyming verse. A humorous description of the writing process followed, highlighting some of the particular problems encountered – what do you do when the word watermelon doesn’t fit your verse structure, but is clearly a major plot point?
Finally, Danny presented the result – a great picture book, with the text truly complementing the superb images. Plenty of Melvin, and even the watermelons got in. What’s more, Stella Dreis was more than satisfied. The twist was that Dreis is Bulgarian, resident in Germany, and the Portuguese “original” was nothing of the sort; it was a translation. Danny should never have got the job! As it is, Danny is credited with “text by,” and there are talks for the book to be translated into Portuguese!
Danny then spent ¾ of an hour answering questions about the book, translation, children’s literature, and much more, with an eloquence many of us can only dream of. This was a very enjoyable talk, leaving many wanting more from Daniel Hahn! Hope to see him back soon.’
I just hope this doesn’t give Son ideas. Unless they pay really well.