If you are interested in German-English translation as a profession or simply as a hobby, your may benefit from actively reading this translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Geschichten vom lieben Gott, translated here as Stories of God.
Picture yourself at table, actively reading the book – flipping from the original German to the English translations, comparing the German-English translations with how you might have translated each story and discovering why each translator made the choices that each did as you read the essays on the art of translation. The process may increase your confidence in your own skills and help to highlight just where you need to further develop your skills.
Good translation requires time and patience as well as a solid grounding in the German-English translation problem domain. That is, a thorough knowledge of German and a thorough knowledge of English. Myself, try as I might, I still lack the former, which is why I asked these fourteen professional translators to have a hand at translating Rainer Marie Rilke’s youthful work into English.
Rainer Marie Rilke – as Translated by
Each of these fourteen stories are translated by a different translator. And, each translator provides an essay on the art of translation and how they went about doing what they did. Each of these wonderful professionals have years of experience as translators, but their experience and cultural backgrounds are each quite different from one another. Part of the charm and purpose of this edition of Stories of God is to take in the resulting differences in tone and style and, well, how each story turned out in relation to the others. Some have a more literary background. Others a more technical or commercial background. All have an appreciation of Rainer Maria Rilke. And, all are well-versed in German-English translation. Each has a bio elsewhere on this site so I’ll simply list them here:
- Gunilla Zedigh – translator of By Way of Introduction: The Tale of God’s Hands and author of The Opposite of Immaculate.
- Sean Craig – translator of The Stranger and author of Essay on Translating Der Fremde Mann.
- Stefan White – translator of Why the benevolent God wants there to be poor people and author of “What a splendid art. And what a sad profession.”.
- Karen Haydon – translator of How betrayal came to Russia and author of The Art and Challenge of Translation.
- Walter Köppe – translator of How old Timofej died singing and author of Translating Rilke – an approach.
- Gert Sass – translator of The Song of Justice and author of Translating Inaccessible Silence.
- Linda Gaus – translator of A Scene from the Venetian Ghetto and author of Trapped in a Bubble of Language?.
- Therese Eglseder – translator of About One Who Eavesdrops On The Stones and author of A Stony Way Full Of Stumbling Blocks.
- Tessa Sachse – translator of How the thimble came to be God and author of Reconciling Twain, Rilke and the German language.
- Emily Williams – translator of A Tale of Death and a Strange Postscript to It and author of With Respect to the Author, from the Translator.
- Chris Michalski – translator of An Organization Called Forth by an Urgent Need and author of Translating Another Rilke.
- Rebecca Lavnick – translator of The Beggar and the Proud Maiden and author of Translating “The Beggar and the Proud Maiden”.
- Katarina Peters – translator of A Tale told to the Dark and author of Reflections on Rilke’s Fascination with the Dark.
- Neil Williamson – translator of Addendum: A letter from lame Ewald and author of Translator’s notes on Ein Brief des lahmen Ewald.
A Unique Stories of God collection – in three respects
I’ve read, in fact first read, two fine, earlier German-English translations of these stories. I recommend these to you as well. However, this edition has three unique attributes not found in either of those earlier translations. In this edition of Stories of God:
- Each story is translated by a different translator, enabling you to glimpse something of the art of translation, something of how different translators solve particular problems in different, interesting and valid ways – and compare with your own approach –
- A fourteenth story not found in either of the English translations currently on the market –
- The original German work, Geschichten vom lieben Gott, so, you can read either / or, or in parallel.
Aside from Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies, Rilke, of course, left a great body of poetry. From Life and Songs to New Poems, there is a good number of reasons to overlook his prose, especially Stories of God, which he wrote at about the same time as The Book of Hours.
However, I encourage you not to pass over Stories of God. So much so that I’ve put together a special offer that will enable you to not only read the stories in English, essays about the translation process which led to them, and also Rainer Maria Rilke’s original text.
In the first story, Rilke’s storyteller says that these are stories to be told to the children. Perhaps, but they are certainly stories to be told. Elsewhere in Stories of God, Rilke writes that the story was alive when it passed many lips. In that spirit, I encourage you to also listen to the stories.
So, if you’d like to read great German literature as you learn German, why not read Stories of God in parallel with Geschichten vom lieben Gott? And, for a limited time, take advantage of the free audio recordings: click here.
Copyright 2009 – Aventure Works, Inc.