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Bradley Schmidt

That which touches, that which frightens

Frank Heibert

»[...] while I’ve experienced discrimination (and the fear of it) myself in infinitely smaller doses, and I believe I know exactly what lies beneath it – this is exactly why I am the wrong person for this book. It hits far too close to home for me. I could find the words. But I don’t want to look for them, don’t want to get them out of me and convey them through myself. I don’t want to become that voice.«


Who speaks for whom and with which words?

Eva Bonné & Marion Kraft

»I was surprised by my vague hesitance toward texts that have been so familiar to me for so many years. Perhaps because I knew how difficult the transfer can be linguistically, particularly in cultural terms, when the text explicitly demands transforming language into action for the realization of positive visions of a different world.«


Sunday Bells

Anna Kove

»When I was entrusted with the translation of the novel Herztier by the Nobel laureate Herta Müller, the confrontation with this engulfed my senses. I was seized by a true panic and it robbed me of my sleep.«


My Worst Translation

Lídia Nádori

"Around ten years ago, I received the pleasant request to translate a German author’s autobiographical novel into Hungarian. The fact that the author was my age seemed irrelevant at first, but already during the first reading of the book, I felt what I sometimes feel towards authors whose works I translate: a familiarity, even a spiritual kinship – as if we were twins. I was particularly impressed by the matter-of-fact, detached, and ironic narrative tone, which was soothing in view of the expanse of the emotions and tragedy of the events depicted, and which I also like to echo in my own writing. In short, I heard my own voice in the book. It gave my work some wings".


Flaschengeist und Flaschenpost

Wenn das Genie mitliest

Bradley Schmidt

»Weil viele meiner Autor·innen fließend Englisch können, denke ich auch an sie, da sie unweigerlich mitlesen. Wer kann schon ermessen, wie groß der Einfluss ist, den sie auf mich haben, wenn ich sie unbewusst mitadressiere. Diese Berührungsangst habe ich weitgehend überwunden, doch sie lauert immer noch im Hintergrund. Bin ich der Aufgabe gewachsen, die Wünsche des Genies zu erfüllen? Kann ich Lyrik und Prosa überhaupt (nach-)schreiben? Indem meine Autor·innen mitlesen, mitdenken, mitschreiben, wandern sie – ihr Geist – mit in die Flasche, gehen mit auf die Reise ins Ungewisse. Wer weiß schon, von wem die Flasche gefunden wird.«


Bottled Lightning and Message(s) in a Bottle

When the genius looks over your shoulder

Bradley Schmidt

»Because many of my authors are fluent in English, I also think of them as well, since they inevitably read along. Who can know how great an influence they have on me when I am unwittingly writing to them as well? I have largely overcome this Berührungsangst, but it still lurks in the background. Am I up to the task of fulfilling the wishes of a genius? Can I even (re)write poetry and prose? By reading along, thinking along, writing along, my authors – and their spirits – move into the bottle with me, go along on a journey into the unknown. Who knows who will find the bottle?«


Brazil is My Berührungsangst

Marcelo Backes

"I have Berührungsängste – fear of touch, contact, engagement – toward my country. What began as an affectation, no later than Bolsonaro’s election in 2018, had become a disease, a syndrome. I’m sick of Brazil, and of the man in power who is obsessed with stupidity, crudeness, and bloodlust. The worst president in the history of this country, who believes the dictatorship started with a mistake – only torturing where it should have killed – continues to enjoy an approval rating of about 40% nationally."


Vulnerable Territory

Amalija Maček

»Your invitation reaches me in what is – seen from the outside – the calmest, most settled period of my life, but beneath the smiling surface there is an incredible churning – not a foreboding, but rather, certainty: harder days are coming.«


Sensitive, with Respect, but without Fear

Shoko Asai

"The greatest Berührungsangst – fear of touch, contact, engagement – I have experienced so far as a translator was with my new translation of Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kröger. The work is also very well known in Japan, and has been translated into Japanese several times by renowned German scholars and translators – for their part, some of these translations have classic status."


Graze the Moon with Your Bare Hand

Margherita Carbonaro

"[...] As a translator, I have to get inside his head, look at him up close and from a distance, study the author’s construction and somehow mimic it. I have to hear Faber’s voice, not just figuratively, as an embodiment of syntax, but his very real one: What does it sound like?"


Severly Affected

Subroto Saha

"[...] At the same time, there are difficulties approaching Thomas Melle’s The World at Your Back [Die Welt im Rücken] – a long overdue, repeatedly interrupted translation whose subject matter revolves around the author’s bipolar disorder (‘when the neurons fire out of control’), which strongly affects me as a highly sensitive person. The work means long days in front of a screen, parallel to the lockdown with all its knock-on effects."


A Corpse Washer Washes, Regardless of Who it is

Mahmoud Hosseini Zad

"The 1980s. We were a team of three and a renowned Tehran publishing house had commissioned us to translate Brecht’s complete works into Persian. After more than two years of hard work and the publication of the first volumes, Brecht was blacklisted. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 had won – and that was the end of the project".