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How to compile an anthology: translator Paul Vincent on Amsterdam Tales

11 augustus 2017
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Paul Vincent stelde samen met Helen Constantine de bloemlezing Amsterdam Tales samen, met werk van Gerard Brandt, Arnold Houbraken, J. Colerus, J.C. Nomen, W. Otto, Herman Heijermans, Jacob Israël de Haan, Anonymous, Frans Pointl, Simon Carmiggelt, Remco Campert, Abel J. Herzberg, Anton Valens, Pieter Olde Rikkert, Sanneke van Hassel, Thomas Heerma van Voss, Margriet de Moor en Robert Anker. We vroegen hem waar hij tegenaan liep.

Compiling and translating an anthology of Amsterdam-related narratives dating from the seventeenth century to the turn of the second millennium was both a privilege and a challenge. Particularly since the texts were not only chronologically but also stylistically diverse, ranging from the sedate periods of Gerard Brandt, the biographer of Vondel, to the impressionism of Heijermans, and the contemporary conversational tone of P.O. Rikkert’s ‘Who’s Afraid of Allah Akbar’.

The selection of material also had its share of challenges: some items I would have loved to include (by, for instance, A.F.Th. van der Heijden) were in copyright and beyond the reach of a limited budget. Others had been previously translated and hence were excluded by my terms of reference.

Of course, a fully representative anthology is an unrealistic aim for a book of this modest size, and I have simply tried to tick a number of important boxes, such as ethnic diversity, the impact of WW2 on Jewish life in Amsterdam, the relationship of the capital and the provinces (‘Single to Amsterdam’ and ‘A Stroke of Luck’) and the squatting phenomenon (‘Pain in the Spleen’).

Specific translation issues included the vocabulary of massage parlours and the broad Amsterdam dialect of an alcoholic drifter.

I hope readers will enjoy the selection and will be encouraged to explore further the life and culture of this great city.

Paul Vincent is al meer dan twintig jaar vertaler Nederlands-Engels. In 2012 won hij de Vondel Translation Prize voor My Little War (Mijn kleine oorlog) van Louis Paul Boon, in 2016 samen met John Irons voor 100 Dutch Language Poems de Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation. Naast Boon staan ook Engelse vertalingen van werken van Louis Couperus, Jan Jacob Slauerhoff, Willem Elsschot en Harry Mulisch op zijn lijst én een grote hoeveelheid poëzievertalingen, oudere (P.C. Hooft, Joost van den Vondel) en moderne (Leonard Nolens, Tonnus Oosterhoff). Eerder lichtte hij voor ons zijn Erwin Mortiervertaling toe.

How to compile an anthology: translator Paul Vincent on Amsterdam Tales

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