TALKS Staying alive 1984 and Time
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1984 and Time

My dear colleague Josée Kamoun kicked off the latest series of TOLEDO TALKS, titled “Staying Alive”, with an essay on her new translation of George Orwell’s 1984.1 I have nothing to add to her pointed characterization of the ways in which the novel and its depiction of terror and political manipulation are, unfortunately, timeless. Yet there is an internal justification for my response to her essay. I have Josée to thank for inspiring the most prominent and daring alteration that characterizes both of our new versions of this novel, and I followed her cue in my German translation—I am referring to the decision to shift a text that is originally told in the past tense into the present tense, an unusual move in the world of literary translation. Such a step needs to be well-thought-out and justified.

Present vs preterit

Her argument, which is mostly based on the grammatical possibilities the French language offers for past tense narratives, cannot be applied to German: in literature, the German simple past serves a similar function to the English past tense, which in Orwell’s time was the most popular narrative tense. In German, we do not have an equivalent to the French passé simple that sounds as magniloquent, or stilted, or at least distant. But Josée Kamoun’s underlying reasoning did apply to me: How do I ensure that my text disturbs today’s readers in the same inevitable and merciless manner as the original 1984 did? Orwell’s novel presents with a great directness, without having to break free from the narrative conventions of its literary era by resorting to linguistic tricks or avantgardisms. And because my main concern as a translator is achieving as much of an equivalent effect as possible, I want my text to have that same immediacy.

This becomes all the more important since the primary surveillance tool, the “telescreen”2—very science-fiction-like in its day—, as well as some of the other realia in the world of 1984, come across as technologically outdated, almost quaint, when viewed from today’s perspective. The insidiousness with which the 1984-regime manipulates thought is more substantial in the novel, more terrifying, and more acute. The language composition of the translated text should ultimately pursue an equally acute effect.

Image reproduced from 1984 by George Orwell, illustrated by Reinhard Kleist © 2021 S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt/Main.

There are two reasons why employing the simple past tense in German tends to hinder achieving such a level of immediacy. The first lies in the nature of German syntax. In longer, hypotactically shaped sentence constructions with an elaborate syntactical architecture, past tense narration can turn into an extensive staging of correlations and connections, eventually creating the impression that the narrating entity has everything under control, that it is offering a conscious retrospective of past experiences, or more pointedly in the case of 1984: an account of events that were safely overcome. Employing the past tense in German therefore bears the risk of defusing the dramatic situation of an individual at the mercy of Big Brother’s terror regime; an effect that does not manifest in the original language. English certainly does allow for artfully complex sentence architecture (see Henry James), but that is not Orwell’s style: His narrative parlando, the stylistic fluidity (owing to his journalistic endeavors?) that characterizes large parts of the novel, at the action level, is accessible to the reader and makes immediate even the most deeply serious, shocking subject matter. In translating this story, it therefore becomes important to avoid letting this perception of control take over, the sense that what is being recounted is “over and done with”, as it often does when German-language narratives are told in the past sense.

The second aspect concerns the craft of translation. A German translation from English becomes problematic when it structurally follows the original, not only on account of the differently weighted structures of emphasis and internal references, but because doing so often changes the meaning. Translations of non-contemporary English texts often read much more sedate, impassive, perhaps even more convoluted than the original. As long as we are talking about re-creating typical British irony, that may not pose much of an issue, after all, a convoluted style can serve an ironic purpose. In Orwell’s text, however, such an impression needs to be avoided. (Some decisions at the word level have been made in parallel with this need: Translating the “newspeak dictionary” as “Neusprechdiktionär”3, as Michael Walter did, is a deliberate choice in favor of an antiquated-sounding word, as are phrases such as “dem Vernehmen nach”4 [was supposed to be], where semantics and syntax jointly meander into the cozy.) While looking at other translations of 1984, but also at my own translation, which I dutifully began in the simple past at first, I noticed that in the past tense the German text felt slower and less tense than the original. Take for example the scene after Julia slips Winston the note:

“[…] it had been very difficult not to betray a momentary surprise, for in the two or three seconds while he was helping her up the girl had slipped something into his hand. There was no question that she had done it intentionally. It was something small and flat. As he passed through the lavatory door he transferred it to his pocket and felt it with the tips of his fingers. It was a scrap of paper folded into a square.”5

My initial, simple past version
“(…) war es ihm sehr schwer gefallen, sich seine kurze Überraschung nicht anmerken zu lassen, denn in den zwei oder drei Sekunden, während er ihr aufhalf, hatte die junge Frau etwas in seine Hand gleiten lassen. Es stand außer Frage, dass sie das mit Absicht getan hatte. Es war etwas Kleines, Flaches. Als er die Toilette betrat, steckte er es in die Tasche und befühlte es mit den Fingerspitzen. Es war ein zusammengefaltetes Stückchen Papier.”

My present tense version
“(…) ist es ihm sehr schwer gefallen, seine kurze Überraschung zu verbergen, denn in den zwei, drei Sekunden, als er ihr aufhalf, hat die junge Frau etwas in seine Hand gleiten lassen. Absichtlich, gar keine Frage. Etwas Kleines, Flaches. Als er die Toilette betritt, steckt er es ein und befühlt es mit den Fingerspitzen: ein zusammengefaltetes Stückchen Papier.”6

These instances may seem minor, but they reveal how the narrative tense impacts the rest of the wording. Extrapolated to the entire text, it creates a different sound, a different narrating sensation and thus a different reading sensation. This sensation more compellingly satisfies my desire for my translation to foreground how this novel continues to resonate with us across eras and, in doing so, how ardently its fire still burns. This is my understanding of “staying alive”.

In the present tense, the person in the narrative is in immediate proximity to the action, is more exposed, less strategic, it does not seem as though the experience has already been processed. This is the case even in a third person narrative (Orwell sticks to the personal perspective and refrains from including omniscient knowledge about Winston, Josée Kamoun and I also agree on this).  Here is another example, this one from Winston’s incarceration at the Ministry of Love; O’Brien has just reduced the intensity of the torture device and Winston feels gratitude toward him:

“The old feeling, that at bottom it did not matter whether O’Brien was a friend or an enemy, had come back. O’Brien was a person who could be talked to.”7

My initial, simple past version
“Das alte Gefühl, dass es im Grunde nicht darauf ankam, ob O’Brien ein Freund oder ein Feind war, hatte sich wieder eingestellt. O’Brien war ein Mensch, mit dem man reden konnte.”

My present tense version
“Das alte Gefühl ist wieder da: Unterm Strich kommt es nicht darauf an, ob O’Brien Freund oder Feind ist. O’Brien ist einer, mit dem man reden kann.”8

Perhaps these examples already demonstrate how the present tense feels more direct, more empathetic. The effects of the tense shift reverberate through the entire text, into the arrangement of thoughts and descriptions, they are not limited to simply switching out verb forms. I have never before made such a radical change in a translation, and doing so required a courageous publisher (my thanks go to Hans-Jürgen Balmes of the S. Fischer Verlag and to the amazing editor Hannes Riffel, who is no longer with S. Fischer Verlag). The fact that there are seven other retranslations of 1984 being published alongside mine (due to the expiration of the Orwell copyright) shifts my responsibilities; there is no danger that my translation will lead the reader to the erroneous assumption that the original is written in the present tense, as the simple past is preserved in all the others. Its reception has confirmed, with one exception, that the temporal shift achieves its intended effect (cf. Tobias Döring in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on February 27, 2021: “audacious and brazen, but simply genius”; only Manfred Pabst brought out the heavy artillery in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on March 27, 2021: “Rescue through rape: Who would have thought”).

Stylistic diversity

As Josée mentions, Orwell’s directness is reflected in the fact that many of the situations and conditions of Winston’s life are told through physical sensations that he experiences, an element that was apparently toned down, attenuated, domesticated in previous French translations. In this regard, there was little need for action on my part; the last German version to appear before the current wave of retranslations—Michael Walter’s 1984, published in 1984—does not feature such a domestication.

Earlier I noted that Orwell’s style does not bristle with linguistic peculiarities, the language he crafts does not seek to share the spotlight with, much less upstage, the overpowering content of the narrative and the book’s reflections on political power and manipulation. That is not to say that his style is mundane or one-dimensional. Alongside the primary narrative level on which the plot takes place, which is not austere, but rather unembellished, he adds a second element that embodies a world standing in opposition to the unforgiving terror. It consists of the memories and dreams that point toward the past, as well as some scenes, oasis-like, in which Winston and Julia are shown enjoying nature (be it in the form of the vegetation surrounding them, which also reminds Winston of a recurring dream, or be it through their own physical nature, their romantic and sexual connection).

Josée Kamoun describes these elements, especially the memories and dreams that represent the novel’s night world, as its fantastical elements. That is one possible reading, even if I have to admit that I would have not arrived at this interpretation myself—not, however, because it is not plausible. What does this mean for the translation? As the translator, I am compelled to employ specific methods by the atmospheric charge held within these passages, which are distinctly different from the claustrophobia of the darkness, or the odious artificial light of everyday life under the terror. These methods include, where appropriate, reaching for especially expressive, poetic, assonant, “delicious” or rare words and striving for a steadier rhythmic momentum that gives rise to a different atmosphere. This is not just about moments of “beauty” in the text, in opposition to the terror, it is primarily about liveliness persisting in this dystopic world, and also the demise of this liveliness, and the sorrow that follows it. The following example, however, does describe the paradise of nature as a counterimage, a paradise where Winston and Julia will make love, in an almost fantastical fashion.

Image reproduced from 1984 by George Orwell, illustrated by Reinhard Kleist © 2021 S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt/Main.

“Suddenly he was standing on short springy turf, on a summer evening when the slanting rays of the sun gilded the ground. […] the Golden Country. It was an old, rabbit-bitten pasture, with a foot-track wandering across it and a molehill here and there. In the ragged hedge on the opposite side of the field the boughs of the elm trees were swaying very faintly in the breeze, their leaves just stirring in dense masses like women’s hair. Somewhere near at hand, though out of sight, there was a clear, slow-moving stream where dace were swimming in the pools under the willow trees.”9

“Mit einem Mal steht er auf federndem Boden, in kurzem Gras, das die schrägen Sonnenstrahlen eines Sommerabends vergolden. […] das Goldene Land: eine alte Weide voller Kaninchenlöcher, mit einem Wanderpfad quer hindurch und hie und da einem Maulwurfshügel. Am anderen Ende wiegt sich das Ulmengeäst eines zerzausten Hags ganz leicht in der Brise, das Laub eine dichte Masse, wie Frauenhaare. Irgendwo in der Nähe, aber nicht mehr sichtbar, plätschert ein langsam dahinfließender, klarer Bach, in dessen Becken unter Trauerweiden Zinnfische schwimmen.”10

Poems in the day world and in the night world

An interesting observation about these two contrasting stylistic forces is that Orwell integrates a “poem” into both. Of course, a poem demands that the translator pay attention to rhyme and rhythm, but also to the typical attributes of the respective stylistic modes. From the past, a nursery rhyme seeps into Winston’s mind that assembles itself over the course of several returning memories. The trigger line, which appears with regularity, reads:

“Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s …”

And so, it continues on with the bells of several London churches, which no longer exist in the present of the terror regime, and which “say” this or that, often in childlike-nonsensical diction, so that it rhymes with the church’s respective saint. This naive wit motions at Winston from the past, it is therefore an important element. Josée Kamoun reconstructs it in French; the other German translations maintain strict semantic fidelity, but make poetic as well as rhythmic compromises. For example, Walter writes:

“Orangen und Limonen, läutet’s von St. Clement …”

My version reads:

“Südfrüchte, wir nehmen’s! – sagt die Glocke von St. Clement’s …”

The other “poem” is a peculiar and ingenious blend of both worlds. Orwell’s proles, allowed to hold onto parts of the old world because they are not important enough to the regime to warrant full control, speak in London’s Cockney dialect, they are not expected to use newspeak. They are kept happy through machine-produced entertainment, like the summer hit that is constantly sung by a leitmotif-supporting character in the courtyard next to Julia’s and Winston’s love nest. Orwell crafts the lyrics of a clichéd, kitschy popular song. Rhythm, rhyme—even the internal rhyme structure, all hit the mark, one lyrical image is more hackneyed than the next, and on top of it all the woman sings it in her dialect. In such an instance the constraints of the form are strict (a text machine is precise), and it is these very elements that facilitate the humor, the quaint recall of times past. This part was definitely worth translating anew, because when dealing with this song, and the question of the dialect, my colleagues do not follow through in their approach.

In my translation, I took another risk and, rather uncommonly, replaced one dialect with another: in this case Cockney with the slang of the Ruhr region. I opted for this particular substitution (as opposed to inserting the dialects of Saxony, East Frisia, or Vienna) because I find the emotional qualities of these two dialects, something we often quite specifically ascribe to certain dialects, to be comparable—a blunt joviality, which I do not find as abrasive in the case of Cockney or Ruhrpott dialect as, say, in Berlin slang. Translators would typically not make such a choice because dialects are strongly anchored in the reality of a specific region; were a German dialect to be spoken in a story set in London, it would cause a break in plausibility. I am justifying my defiance of this convention with the argument that, as a dystopian novel, 1984 does not create a realistic world in the first place; this gives me space for the resonating emotional values introduced by a dialect. The other German translators opt for sometimes more, sometimes less colloquially—or sociolectally—imprinted solutions here. Their approaches correspond to the standard procedure of translating dialect, but they also come across as more sterile.

The song lyrics thus create a bridge between the lifelessness of the machine-produced text and the liveliness of the dialect. Below, the first two of the song’s three verses:

It was only an ‘opeless fancy,
It passed like an Ipril dye,

But a look an‘ a word an‘ the dreams they stirred
They ‘ave stolen my ‘eart awye!

They sye that time ‘eals all things,
They sye you can always forget;
But the smiles an‘ the tears across the years
They twist my ‘eart-strings yet!11

Es war nur eine dumme Romanze
Und verging wie die Träne im Meer,

doch ein Blick und ein Wort weckten Träume sofort
und machen das Herz mir jetzt schwer.

Man sagt, die Zeit heilt alle Wunden,
man sagt, daß man immer vergißt,
doch liegen auch weit Freude und Leid,
sie stimmen im Herzen mich trist.

(Michael Walter)12

Et war bloßn Flört ohne Zukunf
Vorbei wie n Tach im April

Ein Blick und ein Wort und ich träumte mich fort
Mein Herz macht nich mehr wat ich will

Die Zeit, heißt et, heilt alle Wundn,
Vergiss et, so schwer is dat nich.
Du kannz lächeln und wein‘ wie du willz, aber nein -
Dat Herz spürt noch immer den Stich.

(Frank Heibert)13

Aside from the ‘human quality’ introduced by the dialect, I try to produce lines of text that believably sound like popular music, just as they do in the original, lines that perhaps eerily do not even feel that mechanically lifeless. Any laboriously contrived rhyme would put that very plausibility at risk. Among the contemporaneously published new translations, Lutz W. Wolff’s (published by dtv) stands out because he simply leaves the song in Cockney. That, however, is not exactly what I would call an equivalent effect.

The third level of ‘nonfiction’

There is a third stylistic level in the novel, in addition to the two previously mentioned. It is the pseudo-nonfictional meta level on which the political system is outlined, explained even, including the linguistic shift toward newspeak as an element of said system. There are two longer passages written in this style, the untitled “Book” of Emmanuel Goldstein (which is presented as a banned protest manifesto, but in fact perfidiously supplements the party’s world view, even though the novel never explicitly discusses this rhetorical manipulation) and the “Appendix”, which lays out the concepts and rules of newspeak and is as enigmatic as “the Book”. At first, this appendix reads almost like an affirmative, prescriptive rulebook, but soon reveals itself to be a historical postscript, written long after the events of the novel and containing within itself the barely detectable denouement (and comfort) that newspeak, and the regime along with it, ultimately did not last. The tone these passages are written in evokes that of nonfiction writing, yet they are anything but neutral, and instead an artful exercise in political manipulation. The Goldstein book, for example, delineates how doublethink functions and at the same time is an example of it—framed as a document of resistance, yet system-compliant in its argumentation.

Aside from the ‘standard’ requirements of a good nonfiction translation (namely a dispassionate style, transparent argumentation, accurate terminology), it is particularly important for the translation of these passages to ensure that this manipulative balancing act is not put at risk, and that the rhetorical poker face is maintained, thus affording the reader a chance to have the ‘aha moment’ of catching on to the game being played here. Another example:

Image reproduced from 1984 by George Orwell, illustrated by Reinhard Kleist © 2021 S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt/Main.

“It need hardly be said that the subtlest practitioners of doublethink are those who invented doublethink and know that it is a vast system of mental cheating.“14

This is clear, structured, sober, and chilling. The German language allows for a translation that largely imitates the structure of the original, which in a rough draft could read something like this:

“Man braucht kaum dazuzusagen, dass die subtilsten Anwender des Doppeldenk diejenigen sind, die Doppeldenk erfunden haben und wissen, dass es ein umfassendes System des mentalen Betrugs ist.“

A few semantic choices aside, it is mostly the syntactical elements of this sentence that may require further attention. Firstly, the sequence of subordinate clauses seems awkward when compared to the English original, the “dass” [that], which appears twice, feels as irritating as the construction with “diejenigen (…), die” [those who], which sounds like a syntactical crutch. Also, the beginning of the sentence, which in the original English reads like fairly routine, unremarkable meta-comment, is unnecessary for the German syntax and hinders the flow of thought. In German, it would be more conventional to begin with the actual thought, with the “practitioners”. Here is Michael Walter’s version:

“Es bedarf wohl kaum der Erwähnung, daß die subtilsten Benutzer von Doppeldenk diejenigen sind, die es erfunden haben und wissen, daß es ein gigantisches geistiges Betrugsmanöver ist.“15

At first glance there is nothing wrong with this translation, but to my ear the syntax used here—especially the ladder construction that leads into the sentence—has a more distancing effect than the original. My version reads:

“Am raffiniertesten wird Doppeldenk von seinen Erfindern angewandt; kein Wunder, denn sie wissen am besten, es ist ein umfassendes System des mentalen Betrugs.“16

I accommodated the intent of the ladder construction at the beginning of the sentence by inserting “kein Wunder” [no wonder]. Aside from syntactical deviations between Walter’s version and mine, which emphasize different parts of the sentence, there may be some semantic disagreements (“subtil” vs. “raffiniert” [subtle vs. shrewd]; “gigantisches geistiges Betrugsmanöver” vs. “umfassendes System des mentalen Betrugs” [enormous exercise in mental deception vs. comprehensive system of mental deception].

To me as translator, these propagandistically styled texts, the “Book” and the “Appendix”, also offer some guidance on how I should be translating two particular elements of the everyday world that Winston inhabits.

What about „you“?

Firstly. Josée Kamoun comments on the French translation of the English “you”, which acts both as definite and indefinite personal pronoun (“one”). Like French, German offers multiple options for indefinite constructions; it also distinguishes between formal (“Sie”) and informal (“Du”) pronouns in the second person.

In the case of indefinite, impersonal forms, Josée opts for the “you”-solution (second person singular), because it creates an uncomfortable proximity for the reader, much like the present tense. I only partially agree with this; especially because under the regime all party members address each other informally—a deceitful flattening of existing hierarchical gaps—I feel that it is important for Winston to not think “you” (as if referring to just himself) whenever he experiences the impact of the terror on his own feelings, but “one”, because he knows it not only concerns him, but everyone.

Image reproduced from 1984 by George Orwell, illustrated by Reinhard Kleist © 2021 S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt/Main.

While “Big Brother is watching you” is translated as „Der Große Bruder sieht dich“ (in the second person), I feel the response („Always the eyes watching you, the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake (…)“17) should read: „Die Augen beobachten einen immer, die Stimme hüllt einen ein. Ob man schläft oder wacht (…)“18, using the impersonal third person. The use of a second-person pronoun inserted here by Josée does bring the sentiment closer to Winston (and any other ‘citizen’, as the slogan intentionally does), but it also limits it.

Earlier French and German translations resolve the question of how people address each other by using the formal “Sie”; on this I also agree with Josée and prefer the more general, informal “du”, if only for reasons of political cunning (see above): The party members address each other this way. So do the proles because they have always done so. Only on the rare occasions where party members interact with proles—an interaction that Winston actively seeks out as he makes his way through London’s ‘old’ neighborhoods, including the ‘nice’ Mr. Charrington—Josée and I let both parties to the conversation resort to the traditional, formal “Sie”, thereby emphasizing the estrangement between the two sectors of the population.

The newspeak vocabulary

Secondly. The appendix explains at great length that the words are intended to be short and ugly, certainly decipherable, but above all else terse, severe, stark. Orwell consistently constructs composites of one or two syllables, sometimes removing word endings: minitrue, thinkpol, facecrime. My task therefore consists in coming up with newspeak words that are also composites with few syllables. “Neusprech” is one such example that has caught on in German and because it includes “-sprech” [speak] and not “sprach[e]” [language], I am not forced to deal with the French conundrum of “langue” and “parler”. But the German language is known to be heavy on multisyllabic words. It is possible—and within the established rules of newspeak—to use “Denkpol”—besides “Denkpolizei”—in the narrator speech, even where the original says “thought police” and not “thinkpol”. Orwell was likely aware of the unintended joke that is contained within the “mini-“ prefix and content to put it to use, in similar cases I therefore try to identify opportunities to do the same (like with “Abtporn”, referring to the department responsible for pornography, “pornosec” in English). But what do I do about “thoughtcrime” and “facecrime”?  I could use “Gedankenverbrechen” and “Mienenverbrechen” to reconstruct the meaning of these composites, but I cannot stylistically recreate them. For the German “Verbrechen” [crime], I can enlist the easily recognized root word of “Kriminalität” [criminality], which is “-krim”. “Thoughtcrime” thus becomes “Denkkrim”, analogous to “Denkpol”. Michael Walter follows a similar approach and devises “Deldenk”; but for me personally “Del” is too open for interpretation to be immediately understood (Delikatessen? Delegation? Delirium? No, Delikt…). And “face”? Walter coins “Blickdel”. Leaving my issue with “Del” aside, what betrays the “delinquent” after all are his involuntary facial expressions, not an intentional look (“Blick”). I invent “Mimkrim”; a double word that is certainly ugly enough. In the end, unlike Josée, my reason for deviation from Orwell’s vocabulary that has made its way into the parlance is not a question of content, but one of style—following the rules of the “Appendix”.

Psychology of terror

Terror is a political category, but more than that it is a psychological one. The hauntingly efficient methods with which the regime of Big Brother psychologically manipulates the party members are a major contributor to the novel’s timeless validity, because they make it easy to identify parallels with both historical and contemporary reality. The regime’s tools are surveillance, doublethink, and the mutilation of language, along with ‘good old’ torture. In her essay, Josée Kamoun points out Winston’s guilt complex and draws a direct line from there to the novel’s “night world”, to the dreams, visions, and fragmented memories (which she construes as fantastical elements). I am highly fascinated with the juxtaposition of “day and night” in 1984 and what it adds to the interpretation of the book—Josée takes this perspective to the point of even coining “doublewrite” to describe Orwell’s approach. However, I am less convinced that the guilt complex—which arises from Winston’s individual experience, from the traumatic loss of his family—can be applied to his fellow citizens and is a useful lever of oppression for the regime.

These are subtleties of interpretation, and there is no translation without interpretation. Interpretation is also the first aspect in which even good literary translations (and especially those) can differ from and stand as equals beside one another. The second facet lies in the discovery of expressions, the inventions of language that emerge during the recreation of the text in a new language. But not every detail of interpretation has immediate consequences for the translation or creates additional “responsibilities” for the translator. In other words: We may debate to what extent the regime instrumentalizes feelings of guilt as an additional pressure point in its system of terror, but I do not really believe that such a debate would lead to substantially different translations.

A retranslation that intends to keep the work alive must be very conscious of the different worlds contained within it. Together, the recognizable stylistic differences between the “day world” and the “night world” of 1984 and the third stylistic plane of nonfiction chart a course for the translator. Life under the regime is stuck in the present, paralyzingly so, because the past has been falsified, twisted, and therefore made expendable; only the “night world” gives the novel its temporal profile, its surreal reverberation into an undermined history. Only the “night world” is what allows contemporary readers to form an emotional connection with 1984 that goes beyond their dismay at the terror.

 

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© Edwin Gut

Frank Heibert, born in 1960, translator of literature and plays from English, French, Italian, Portuguese. Also: lecturer, author, critic, jazz singer. Translations: approx. 100 novels and anthologies, 10 nonfiction books, and 110 plays, including works by Don DeLillo, Richard Ford, George Saunders, Lorrie Moore, William Faulkner, Raymond Chandler, George F. Walker, Boris Vian, Raymond Queneau, Marie Darrieussecq, Yasmina Reza, Michel Marc Bouchard, Karoline Georges, and many others. Recipient of many honors, most recently of the Straelen Translator Prize in 2017 (together with Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel).