The answer to this question varies with each book and author, but with Clarice the big challenge any translator faces is allowing her to be herself. This is easier said than done. With unconventional writers, there is always a little niggling voice in the back of your mind telling you that readers of the translation are going to attribute any difficulties they have to the translator, not to the original, and I think that this—consciously or unconsciously—leads some translators to over-interpret what the author actually said and serve up a more domesticated version of the writing. I think some past translations of Clarice have tried too hard to “tidy her up” and have her make perfect sense where she was deliberately open-ended. I tried not to do this. There is almost always a more natural way to say the things she says, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a faithful translation.
Here is an email interview with Alison Entrekin, who translated the recent edition of Clarice Lispector’s Near to the Wild Heart. [via BOMBLOG]