Posts Tagged ‘Jhampura Lahiri’

Louis Esterhuizen. Amerikaanse letterkunde dramaties afgekam

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

 

“I’m saying language is a passport. A dubious, dangerous passport too.” (Xiaolu Guo)

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Met die pas afgelope Letterkundefees in Jaipur as platform het die bekroonde Britse skrywer en filmvervaardiger, Xiaolu Guo, tydens ‘n paneelbespreking oor die roman en globalisering ‘n striemende aanval geloods op die Amerikaanse letterkunde wat volgens haar “massively overrated” is en as sulks wêreldwyd in oordrewe mate bevorder word ten koste van ander inheemse letterkundes wat dalk kleiner is, maar beslis meer opwindend as die Amerikaanse produk. “Our reading habit has been stolen and changed,” het Guo volgens die berig in The Guardian glo gesê. “For example I think Asian literature is much less narrative … but our reading habit is more Anglo-Saxon, more American … Nowadays all this narrative [literature is] very similar, it’s so realism, so story-telling driven … so all the poetry, all the alternative things, have been pushed away by mainstream society.”

Aan Jonathan Franzen, wat saam met haar aan die paneelbespreking deelgeneem het, het sy die volgende te sê gehad: “”I love your work, Jonathan, but in a way you are smeared by English American literature … I think certain American literature is overrated, massively overrated, and I really hate to read them.”

Jhampura Lahiri, wat ook hieraan deelgeneem het, het die fokus ietwat verskuif deur op die kwessies van eensydige vertaling te wys; die feit dat so min aandag in die VSA aan vertaalde tekste gegee word, het sy as “shameless” afgemaak. “I was looking at [an Italian paper’s] 10 best books of the year, and they chose seven books written in English. This was astonishing to me,” het Lahiri gesê. “I can’t imagine the New York Times ever choosing seven books written in a language other than English as their choices.” Hierdie oordrewe fokus op Engelse tekste vind sy “distressing … because it has a certain power and a certain readership and a certain commercial currency now”. Sy glo dat “there is so much literature that needs to be brought forward, and the danger now is that it’s getting even less exposure”.

 

Xiaolu Guo

Uiteraard het Guo hiermee akkoord gegaan: “”The alternative needs to be much more powerful, much more money put in to raise that platform, and then you can read on an equal platform, without such unequal competition,” het sy gesê. “If you write in Japanese or Vietnamese or Portuguese you have to wait … to be translated, and translated literature never really works immediately as English literature unless it wins the Nobel or some big prize,” en vervolg: “In a way the easiest and laziest way is to write in English. What a struggle to write in any other language than English.”

Ook Jonathan Franzen het gewys op die gevare wat globalisering vir die letterkunde inhou aangesien eenselwigheid ‘n wesenlike gevolg kan wees: “That kind of experience, [that] ‘wow, Achebe has shown me something about Africa’ … my worry as a reader is that becomes almost a nostalgic experience, the very idea of cultural difference […] One of the consequences of globalism, it seems to me, and I think we see it even in the literary world, is that things become less horizontal and more vertical […] In a funny way you’d think there’d be greater diversity in what is read, but I worry that the trend in a more global literary marketplace is even more towards a kind of star system and a vast sea of people who can’t find an audience.”

Nou ja, toe. Hierdie siening van die paneel word natuurlik ook deur die statistiek ondersteun. Volgens 2007 se statistiek ten opsigte van vertaalde tekste was slegs 2% van Engelse publikasies vertaalde tekste, teenoor 13% in Duitsland, 27% in Frankryk, 28% in Spanje, 40% in Turkye en ‘n magtige 70% in Slowenië. Daarom dat Horace Engdahl, beoordelaar vir die Nobelprys vir Letterkunde in 2008 soos volg reageer het nadat die Nobel-komitee van ‘n Amerikaanse ‘blindekol’ beskuldig is: “American writers are too isolated, too insular. [They] don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature That  ignorance is restraining.”

Vir jou leesplesier volg ‘n toepaslike gedig deur John Keats.

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On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
    And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
    Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
    That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
    Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortes when with eagle eyes
    He stared at the Pacific – and all his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise –
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

© John Keats