FOUR TRANSLATORS DISCUSS THE CHALLENGES AND JOYS OF TRANSLATING ITALIAN LITERATURE –
With Howard Curtis, Richard Dixon, Katherine Gregor, Lori Hetherington
This month, rather than writing an article about yet-untranslated book, I would like to share a conversation I had with three fellow Italian-English translators (Howard Curtis, Richard Dixon and Lori Hetherington) about what it means for us to translate Italian literature: the challenges, joys, frustrations and rewards. I hope you enjoy our exchange as much as we did.
Howard Curtis has translated more than 130 books – mostly fiction – from Italian, French and Spanish. Among the many Italian writers he has translated are Luigi Pirandello, Beppe Fenoglio, Leonardo Sciascia, Giorgio Scerbanenco, Gianrico Carofiglio, Marco Malvaldi, Pietro Grossi, Filippo Bologna, Gianfranco Calligarich, Fabio Geda, Andrej Longo, Paolo Sorrentino, Matteo Righetto, Alessandro Perissinotto and Edoardo Albinati. He has given translation workshops and masterclasses and mentored emerging translators. He has also been awarded a number of translation prizes.
Richard Dixon lives and works in Italy. His translations include Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery (shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012) and Numero Zero (John Florio Prize commended translation 2016). He has also translated Roberto Calasso (Ardor, The Art of the Publisher, The Ruin of Kasch, The Unnamable Present,The Celestial Hunter), Carlo Emilio Gadda (The Experience of Pain), Paolo Volponi (The Javelin Thrower), Antonio Moresco (Distant Light), Stefano Massini (The Lehman Trilogy) and Marcello Fois (Valse Triste). He was one of the translators of Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone. His translations of Italian contemporary poets have appeared in many publications. His translation of Stefano Massini’s The Book of Nonexistent Words will be published by HarperVia in October 2021.
Since 1992 Lori Hetherington has been weaving words as an Italian-English translator, linguistic consultant, proofreader, ghost writer, and editor. An atmosphere of teamwork brings out the best in her.
Growing up in a journalistic family in California instilled her with a love for the written word and appreciation for the range of subtleties that can be expressed through language. On the other hand, her studies in physical and environmental geography trained her to see both the big picture as well as the single components that come together to form a whole. She’s convinced that these experiences are part of what make her unique as a professional.
As a translator (and reader, for that matter) she’s drawn to diverse genres and enjoys projects that pluck at her heart strings. Her most recent book is Tuscan Tales, a collection of fantastic fables authored by Emma Perodi: a classic work of late 19th-century literature for children and a contemporary of Pinocchio. Now English-language readers too can enjoy these dark tales that have enchanted Italians for nearly 130 years. Other books translated or ghost-written by Lori range from literary, historical and women’s fiction to memoir, cookbooks and narrative nonfiction.
A resident of Italy since 1986, she divides her time between work, family, friends, outdoor activities, reading whatever she can get her hands on, and the pleasures of the table.
Katherine Gregor was in born in Rome and grew up in Italy and France. She graduated from the University of Durham, where she specialised in medieval and Renaissance French literature. Subsequently, she was a press agent, theatre director, theatrical agent and taught English as a Foreign Language.
Having enjoyed translating plays for the stage, she became a full-time literary translator in 2013. She translates from Italian and French, and her credits include works by Pino Cacucci, Roberto Tiraboschi, Sylvain Tesson, Andrea H. Japp, Luca D’Andrea, Donato Carrisi, Stefania Auci, Alberto Angela, Marco Malvaldi and Marion Brunet.
Katherine also writes her own material and is currently working on a book of non-fiction.
Read previous posts in The Italianist series:
THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. CON I PIEDI NEL FANGO: CONVERSAZIONI SU POLITICA E VERITÀ (With Your Feet in The Mud: Conversations About Politics and Truth) by Gianrico Carofiglio (with Jacopo Rosatelli)