I was once introduced to an acclaimed French translator of Shakespeare. I was taken aback by my own entirely unexpected reaction: I felt envious of him. He could get close to Shakespeare in a way that I can’t.
Andrey Platonov, ‘The Return’: This short story about an army captain returning home to his family in 1946 is one of the wisest works of literature I know. It is also both tender and funny.
I must have spent three weeks on these three or four pages alone. I went back to it again and again. Sometimes I’d wake up in the morning and say, “That’s how I want to do it!” In that sense, I think that’s where being a translator and a writer overlap; when you are working on a piece like that, it sits in your head and simmers, and there is a process going on even if you are not aware of it. You will be in the middle of something, talking to someone, and you’ll suddenly break off and go, “Oh! That’s the word!” It is so wonderful when that happens — so rewarding.