The Translator as Chameleon: Bringing Mikhail Shishkin’s “Maidenhair” to German-speaking Readers


Mikhail Shishkin. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Mikhail Shishkin. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

“The biggest risk with a translation is that it ends up sounding too much like the translator’s own voice…that it reflects his own taste and doesn’t adapt to the author’s style.  He has to step into someone else’s shoes…a translator needs to be a bit of a chameleon.”~Andreas Tretner

Mikhail Shishkin is widely regarded as one of contemporary Russia’s most important novelists.  In this 2011 video (in English) from Deutsche Welle, Shishkin is interviewed with Andreas Tretner, the German translator of his novel “Maidenhair.”  Tretner discusses the role of the translator in introducing a novel to readers of a language different from that of the original text, as well as his collaboration with Shishkin as part of the creative process.

The English translation of Shiskin’s most recent novel, “The Light and the Dark,” was published earlier this year.



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