Every author has his or her own particular difficulties. I don’t think any of these authors has been exactly easy to translate, and they are all difficult in their own way. Pessoa is hard because he can be so oblique and does such strange things with language. Eça is both a consummate stylist and very funny, and, in nineteenth-century fashion, he really packs a lot of information into a sentence, which can be a challenge. And then there are the long sentences of Marías and Saramago, but English is such a flexible language that it’s really just a question of patiently piecing all those clauses together to make a seamless utterance. Henry James could do it, and Scott Moncrieff managed when he translated Proust, so why shouldn’t I?!
An interview with translator extraordinaire Margaret Jull Costa. [via Asymptote]