Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rosalía Translators – Interview with Aileen Dever

The third and final interview in our series of interviews with the editors/translators of the three anthologies of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician and Spanish poetry available in English is with Aileen Dever, who together with her father, John P. Dever, edited and translated The Poetry and Prose of Rosalía de Castro for Edwin Mellen Press in 2010.

What made you want to translate work by Rosalía de Castro?
My father and I were drawn to the beauty and meaningfulness of Rosalía’s poetry and essays. We thought it could be useful to bring to English a larger selection of her work for scholars, creative writers, and those who simply enjoy reading poetry and prose.

How difficult was it to find a publisher? Who made the initial contact, you or the publisher?
It was not difficult to find a publisher as Edwin Mellen Press regularly has a representative and published material about the company at one of the conferences I regularly attend. When my father and I decided to do the translation, we sent the manuscript proposal to Mellen simply because we knew them.

There were two of you translating this book. How did you share the workload?
My father had recently retired from his teaching position and was looking for projects to do. I thought this might be a nice project to engage his mind and one in which he could continue to utilize his skills. We divided up the poems and essays equally. Then we would do our own translations; next we would exchange them and edit each other’s work.

Which edition of Rosalía de Castro’s texts did you use?
Castro, Rosalía de. Obras completas. Ed. Marina Mayoral. 2 vols. Madrid: Biblioteca Castro, 1993.

What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
The main criteria used included selections that we found meaningful, beautiful and artistic in addition to seeking a wide representation of Rosalía’s themes. We wanted readers to have a very good idea of who she was.

Was there a difference between translating texts from Galician and Spanish?
I would say that I particularly enjoyed translating the Galician texts because I think they truly represent Rosalía’s greatest work.

Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
The manuscript was sent out for review and one critic thought the manuscript was too long, so we shortened it a bit. As I recall, there were no comments that stand out about the actual translations. The comments were more directed to the introduction, which they found rather prosaic, and, thinking about it, I would have to agree.

What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
We have received some comments here and there, but not much beyond that. That’s all right. We understood when we undertook the project that it would probably fill a lacuna for a small group of people. We do hope, though, that professors may bring some of her poems into their classrooms.

What place do you think Rosalía de Castro occupies in world literature today?
I believe that Rosalía de Castro occupies a place that is edging closer to that of Emily Dickinson, her U.S. contemporary with whom she shares numerous thematic and stylistic points of contact. These two women were philosopher-poets who pondered and felt deeply.

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