Edited By Timothy K. Nixon
A Note on the Translations
While working on a different task, I came across a statement attributed to Thomas Mann that haunted me throughout the early stages of this project. In his essay on English translations of Mann’s works, Timothy Buck quotes from a letter in which Thomas Mann wrote that H. T. Lowe-Porter, or “Die Lowe” as he snidely called her, “has a superb command of her own language, English, but not such a good command of German, and that is what gives rise to the misunderstandings and inadequacies” (243–44). My colleague Rachel Krantz and I had just begun work on the translation of Vergittertes Fenster (Barred Window), and I had the wind knocked out of me by how unforgiving that one great Mann could be when others tampered with his creations. In all truthfulness, I fretted about this endeavor so much that I even had a nightmare where Thomas Mann walked into my room and said with utter disdain, while shaking his head and rolling his eyes, “It’s an idiom…!” That my anxieties derived from Thomas Mann, and not his son Klaus, scorning good-natured, well-meaning attempts at translation was some consolation to me. I have to hope that Klaus Mann would be more forgiving than his father was for what we have done to his work here.
At the outset, Rachel and I agreed that our goal was to create the most readable English texts we could. Neither one of us is a native German speaker, ← xxv | xxvi...
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