Novi List interview

This is a reproduction of my interview for Rijeka’s Novi List daily newspaper with Marinko Glavan published on 15.03.2020.

Životna želja! Prevesti Kamovljevu Isušenu kaljužu na engleski

Martin Mayhew, pisac, prevoditelj i novinar, Britanac je koji već 17 godina živi u Rijeci. U međuvremenu je stekao hrvatsko državljanstvo, a uz svakodnevne poslove prevođenja s hrvatskog na engleski te proofreadinga, posla u kojemu »dotjerava« već prevedene tekstove, bilo da je riječ o poslovnoj komunikaciji ili tekstovima pjesama domaćih bendova koji pjevaju na engleskom, kako bi bili posve u duhu engleskog jezika, započeo je s prevođenjem djela Janka Polić Kamova na engleski jezik. Već je preveo zbirku Kamovljevih pjesama Psovka, a velika mu je želja na engleski prevesti Isušenu kaljužu, vjerojatno najznačajnije djelo riječkog pisca, kako bi, ističe, ovaj čudesni roman predstavio čitateljskoj publici s engleskog govornog područja.

Da Hrvati sele u Veliku Britaniju nije ni najmanje neuobičajeno, no suprotnih primjera, poput njegovog, vrlo je malo, u stvari u čitavoj Hrvatskoj trajno živi svega šačica Britanaca pa na pitanje kako je uopće došlo do toga da se iz Brightona preseli u Rijeku, odgovara da je ispočetka sve bila čista slučajnost. U Rijeku i na Kvarner prvi je put stigao prije točno dvadeset godina, radeći kao novinar turističku reportažu s Kvarnera.

“Došao sam u zemlju o kojoj nisam znao puno. Radio sam za jedan časopis, a naš urednik imao je ponude turističkih zajednica iz gotovo cijelog svijeta da dođemo i pišemo reportaže o različitim destinacijama. Tog dana, kada se odlučivalo tko će u Hrvatsku, nitko od kolega novinara nije bio slobodan pa je urednik šetao po redakciji, pitajući „Tko želi ići u Hrvatsku?“. Kako u tom trenutku nisam imao puno nekog drugog posla, rekao sam „OK, ja ću to napraviti“. lako nisam imao pojma gdje idem niti što mogu očekivati. Kad sam rekao svojim prijateljima i poznanicima da idem u Hrvatsku, bilo je svakakvih reakcija, poput one da uzmem sa sobom pancirku, jer je tamo bio rat“, kaže Mayhew.

Niša na tržištu

Po dolasku, proveo je tjedan dana putujući po Primorju i otocima, s grupom od još pet turista i kako naglašava – fantastično se proveo.

„Na Cresu smo bili u Eko centru Beli, gdje zbrinjavaju ozlijeđene bjeloglave supove. Upoznao sam a zaljubio sam se ovu zemlju, i ovaj kraj. U iduće dvije godine promijenio sam posao, vratio sam se u tisak, kao menadžer za proizvodnju u velikoj tiskarskoj tvrtki, ali sam i još nekoliko puta posjetio Hrvatsku. Posao menadžera bio je vrlo stresan i jednom sam trenutku odlučio sve promijeniti, doslovce promijeniti svoj život. Odlučio sam preseliti se iz Brightona u Rijeku. Počeo sam učiti hrvatski i nakon godinu-dvije sam krenuo s prevođenjem i proofreadingom, tada uglavnom za lokalne ljude i tvrtke, ništa pretjerano znanstveno ili na razini prevođenja književnosti“, kaže Britanac.

Kroz godine provedene u Rijeku uspio je stvoriti vlastitu nišu na tržištu, u kojoj se bavi isključivo prijevodima s hrvatskog na engleski, ne i obrnuto, jer iako je, prema onome što smo čuli tijekom razgovora, hrvatski jezik savladao vrlo dobro, kao izvorni govornik engleskog jezika i pisac, smatra kako puno više može postići prevodeći hrvatske tekstove na engleski.

„Najviše se, zapravo, bavim takozvanim proofreadingom, provjerom ispravljanjem tekstova na engleskom koji su pisali Hrvati, kako bi taj tekst bio posve, ne samo gramatički i pravopisno ispravan, nego i u duhu engleskog jezika. Kroz sve ove godine zapravo sam sam stvarao svoj današnji posao. Bio sam uporan, učio sam hrvatski koji je za nas Engleze vrlo zahtjevan jezik. Sintaksa. gramatika, padeži, rodovi, sve je vrlo drugačije. Hrvatski, po svom sudu, ne .govorim baš najbolje, ali ga odlično razumijem, a to je najvažnije kada je riječ o prijevodima s hrvatskog na engleski“, kaže Mayhew.

Zaljubljen u Kamova

Posao mu je vrlo specifičan, posebno kada je riječ o proofreadingu. Radi se o, da tako kažemo, finom tuningu prijevoda s hrvatskog na engleski, u čemu je već stekao popriličnu reputaciju i broj klijenata.

„Dakle, ne govorimo o klasičnom prevođenju, nego o finim nijansama prevođenja. Ljudi mi pošalju tekst na engleskom i ono što ih zanima je zvuči li to zaista dobro. Zvuči li zaista onako kako bi to napisao ili rekao izvorni govornik. Na tom području surađujem I s nekim bendovima koji pjevaju na engleskom, poput Sarah & The Romans čije tekstove provjeravam. Stvorio sam mrežu poznanika i suradnika koji me dalje preporučuju drugim ljudima i tako to funkcionira“, kaže Mayhew.

Što se tiče prevođenja, „zaljubio“ se u Kamova. Do sad je preveo zbirku pjesama Psovka, a prijevod je objavio u vlastitom izdanju, specifičnom po tome što je uvez i grafički dizajn identičan izvornom, prvom izdanju Kamovljeve zbirke pjesama.

‘Psovka’ original edition and ‘The Curse’ in English – available on Amazon as ebook and paperback here

Kad sam prvi put čitao Kamova, za mene je to bilo otkriće. Bio sam oduševljen. Krenuo sam u prevođenje njegove poezije, trudeći sa da to bude zaista najbolji mogući prijevod. Čitajući njegova djela i prevodeći ih, odlučio sam napraviti i cijeli rječnik prijevoda njegovih izraza na engleski, što mi je pomoglo u daljnjem prevođenju, a na taj sam način i bolje upoznao hrvatski jezik, jer je on u svom pisanju koristio izraze i arhaična glagolska vremena kakva se u suvremenom hrvatskom više ne koriste. Želja mi je da napravim kvalitetan prijevod Isušene kaljuže na engleski i tražim izdavača koji bi bio spreman u tome sudjelovati. Riječ je o vrhunskom književnom djelu koje zaslužuje biti prevedeno na engleski kako bi došlo do šireg kruga čitatelja u svijetu. 1tažio sam potporu hrvatskog Ministarstva kulture, kao i britanske ambasade, ali potpora je uvjetovana nalaženjem izdavača Vjerujem da ću uspjeti naći izdavača zainteresiranog za ovaj projekt“, kaže Mayhew.

Modern and original editions of ‘Isušena kaljuža’
My collection of Kamov’s ‘Farces and Novellas’ is also available on Amazon. More details here.

Otvorene luke

Kao novinar proputovao je većinu europskih zemalja, ali kaže kako mu nigdje nije bilo tako lijepo, niti je igdje bilo tako mirno kao u Hrvatskoj, posebno u Rijeci i okolici, iako nije riječ o turističkom gradu. Rijeku je, ističe, izabrao zato jer je cijeli život živio kraj mora, iako je Brighton po pitanju turizma, kao jedno od najpopularnijih odredišta u Engleskoj, posve suprotan Rijeci.

„Brighton je vrlo orijentiran na turizam i vrlo popularan u Britaniji. Proputovao sam i dobar dio Hrvatske, ali sam odlučio da mi dom bude u Rijeci. Volim atmosferu ovog grada, volim, da tako kažem, onaj idealistički dio socijalizma koji se zadržao u ovom gradu. Rijeka i Hrvatska su, osim toga, vrlo sigurni. Možete se šetati sami, bilo kojim dijelom grada, u bilo koje doba noći, bez straha da će vam se dogoditi nešto loše. U nekim dijelovima Londona ili Brightona to nije moguće, ako šetate sami u neko doba noći, postajete meta pljačkaša I sam sam bio opljačkan na ulici u svom rodnom gradu, Brightonu. Osim toga, ljudi u Velikoj Britaniji su prestrašeni od terorističkih napada, a ovdje toga nema“, kaže Mayhew.

Rijeku je odabrao, što je i naglasio u svom nedavno objavljenom tekstu, zbog sličnosti s Brightonom. U oba slučaja riječ je o lučkim gradovima, otvorenima za ljude koji dolaze iz svih krajeva svijeta kroz dugi period povijesti.

„U Rijeci sam upoznao mnogo ljudi, ali nikad se nisam susreo s predrasudama Ovo je, kao i Brighton, vrlo otvoren grad. Doduše, nisam živio nigdje drugdje u Hrvatskoj parni je teško reći je li Rijeka drugačija od ostatka zemlje, ali uspoređujem je s onim što najbolje poznajem, a to je Brighton, koji je također vrlo otvoren, u kojemu se ljudi iz bilo kojeg dijela zemlje ili svijeta osjećaju dobrodošlo. Mislim da je mentalitet Rijeke drugačiji nego ostatka Hrvatske, jer je riječ o luci i industrijskom gradu u koji su oduvijek dolazili brodovi, pomorci, radnici, poslovni ljudi iz raznih krajeva, različitih nacionalnosti, što je stvorilo drugačiji mentalitet. Brighton je turističko središte i također imamo ljude koji dolaze izraznih krajeva. U Brightonu, kao i u Rijeci, prevladava mišljenje kako je grad drugačiji Od ostatka zemlje. Primjerice, iz Brightona je jedini zastupnik zelenih u parlamentu, dok je u ostatku zemlje izbor samo između laburista i konzervativaca. Mislim i da ovdje u Rijeci ima puno prilika, ako želite nešto učiniti, možete. Bit će prepreka, prvenstveno administrativnih, na koje se zbilja teško naviknuti, ali prilika ima Inače, birokracija u Hrvatskoj je zaista problem. Upoznao sam mnoge strance koji su ovdje došli s namjerom da ulažu, ali kad su vidjeli s kolikom birokracijom i papirologijom su suočeni, na kraju su odustali od svojih namjera Na kraju radije kupe kuću ili apartman, nego pokreću biznis, što je velika šteta“, kaže riječki Britanac.

Riječki EPK

Rijeka je, ističe, drugačija od ostalih hrvatskih krajeva uz obalu i po tome što nije turističko odredište, barem ne u segmentu masovnog turizma. Isprva ga je čudilo što u gradu, tijekom vrhunca turističke sezone, u srpnju i kolovozu, ne samo da nema turista u velikom broju, nego ni Riječana.

„Pitao sam zašto ljudi odlaze ljeti. što to Rijeka nema, a svi ostali gradovi uz obalu imaju. Ali s vremenom sam zaključio da je možda i bolje tako. Je li to dobro za Rijeku, ili loše, jer dolazi manje novca od turizma, ne znam. Nadam se da će projekt Europske prijestolnice kulture ipak dovesti više ljudi, iako je teško bilo što prognozirati, s obzirom na epidemiju koronavirusa“, kaže Mayhew.

Kao prevoditelj i sam je uključen u projekt Rijeka EPK 2020. Do sad je preveo cjelokupan katalog svih događanja tijekom riječkog prijestolovanja europskom kulturom, u dva navrata, što je rezultiralo pozamašnim izdanjem na engleskom jeziku u kojemu su predstavljena sva događanja planirana tijekom ove godine.

Prvo izdanje

„To je bio prilično velik posao. Prvo izdanje na engleskom bilo je otprilike upola kraće od drugog, a sada pripremam treće, koje će biti još opsežnije, kaže nam, pokazujući nam podeblju knjigu, katalog zbivanja Rijeka EPK.“

Drugo izdanje

„Zahvaljujući tom prijevodu dobro sam upoznat s programom događanja i zapravo sam zahvalan što sam imao priliku u tome sudjelovati. To mi je i prilika da pokažem što radim, ali i da engleskim medijima približim Rijeka EPK projekt. Do sad nisu pokazali neki golemi interes, ali ipak ga ima. Imam i dalje kontakte u Engleskoj, u medijima, ali oni su uglavnom zainteresirani za Dalmaciju ili Istru, kao najpopularnije turističke destinacije. Ne znam zašto ova regija nije toliko prepoznata, iako je geografski savršeno smještena, a ima i puno toga što vrijedi vidjeti i posjetiti. Možda biste vi meni to trebali objasniti“, kaže Mayhew.

Dvostruko državljanstvo

Uz Britansko, odlučio je uzeti i hrvatsko državljanstvo, što je, smatra, bio ispravan potez, nakon Brexita, jer ostaje građanin Europske unije. Snažno se protivi izlasku Ujedinjenog Kraljevstva iz Europske unije, što smatra potpuno pogrešnom politikom.

“Nisam siguran da su Britanci, glasajući o Brexitu, sasvim razumjeli za što glasaju. Nevjerojatno je da su za Brexit glasali birači laburista. Mislim da će Brexit naštetiti svima. Neki dijelovi Velike Britanije izgubit će mnogo, posebno zbog izostanka sufinanciranja projekata iz EU, poput Walesa, u kojemu je velik dio javnih projekata bio sufinanciran europskim sredstvima. Škotska će, vrlo vjerojatno, izglasati neovisnost od Ujedinjenog Kraljevstva, ne vidim kako se to može spriječiti. Ali tu su i druge stvari, poput razmjene studenata, razmjene znanja, kulture, mislim da će svi na kraju biti na gubitku. Na primjer, čak i glazbenici iz Europe trebati će radnu vizu za nastup u Engleskoj. Glazba je važan dio mog života, a posebno me vesele nastupi britanskih izvođača u Hrvatskoj na koje redovito odlazim, no s vizama, tko zna hoće li i koliko tih nastupa ubuduće biti, hoće li im biti preskupo i prekomplicirano da nastupaju u Hrvatskoj. štete će nastati i po pitanju slobode kretanja, studentske razmjene, znanosti, industrije, svega“, kaže Englez.

O životu i radu u Hrvatskoj i Rijeci kaže kako je drugačiji nego u Brightonu.

„Život u Engleskoj puno je skuplji. Za stan koji ovdje plaćam tristo eura mjesečno u Brightonu bih plaćao barem tisuću. Izlasci, restorani i kafići ovdje su puno jeftiniji. Lako treba uzeti u obzir i da su plaće u Engleskoj znatno veće. U Hrvatskoj su plaće nedovoljne, a to utječe na čitavu kulturu življenja. Ovdje mladi ljudi ostaju živjeti s roditeljima znatno duže nego u Engleskoj, na primjer, jer nemaju dovoljno sredstava da žive sami. To stvara drugačiju sliku društva U Engleskoj, čim završiš školovanje, odlaziš od kuće i očekuje se da skrbiš sam za sebe. To u Hrvatskoj ne vidim i nisam na to navikao, jer sam i sam napustio roditeljski dom kad mi je bilo osamnaest“, kaže Mayhew.

Unatoč razlikama, kaže kako nema namjeru napuštati Hrvatsku. „Kada prestanem raditi i odem i mirovinu, mislim da ću ostati ovdje. Barem za sad, nemam namjeru seliti negdje drugdje. Ovdje sam si stvorio život, našao prijatelje, želim ostati u Rijeci“, zaključuje Mayhew.

Thanks to Marinko Glavan and Marko Gracin @ Novi List.
Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić i Janko Polić Kamov pod kontrolom – ja i Sabina Gvozdić. Ogulin – Rijeka 🙂

Romano Bolković – 1 na 1: HTV1 interview

I was recently interviewed by Romano Bolković for his ‘1 na 1’ talk show programme for Croatian National Television HTV1. It was broadcast on 02.03.2020.

At the same I wrote an article for the Total Croatia News portal about the similarity between the city of Rijeka and the city of Brighton in England where I come from after the opening day of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture year-long celebration. You can read it here.

Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture

Ongoing English translation for the programme of events during Rijeka’s year as European Capital of Culture

Two editions have been published so far. I am now working on the translation of the third and final edition due in March 2020.

1st edition of Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture programme brochure
2nd edition of Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture programme brochure

Rijeka – Port of Diversity monography

A new monography Rijeka Luka različitosti / Fiume Porto della diversità / Rijeka Port of Diversity that highlights the diversity of the city of Rijeka – European Capital of Culture 2020. A trilingual edition with Croatian text by Edi Jurković, my English translation and Italian translation by Ivo Vidotto, edited by Dragan Ogurlić, it has 232 pages with over 300 excellent photographs covering life, work, people, culture, sport, entertainment, science, innovation, health, history and much more in the city.

With its stunning photography by the city’s leading photographers and easy to read texts covering all aspects of Rijeka this is a superb edition to the European Capital of Culture 2020 celebration and I am proud to have been the English translator.

ISBN 978-953-8180-11-8
Available from Val Publishing here

pic c/o Val Publishing

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Goran Trbuljak: a never before seen work by an unseen artist

I am proud to have been the translator of the famous conceptual artist Goran Trbuljak’s exhibition ‘nikada do sada viđen rad neviđenog umjetnika‘ which was held at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka in their gallery from February to May 2019 – more here.

My translations of this special exhibition were printed on an accompanying A3 numbered sheet which viewers could read whilst viewing the original pieces.

There was also an accompanying exhibition on Rijeka’s Korzo featuring the originals with my translations.

Janko Polić Kamov – The Curse – Psovka

Featured

My second book of the work of Janko Polić Kamov is the translation of his collection of nine poems which he published in 1907 – ‘Psovka‘ (‘The Curse‘).
The poems featured are:
Preludij – The Prelude
Pjesma nad Pjesmama – Song of Songs
Job
Mojsije – Moses
Pjesma suncu – Song to the Sun
Intermezzo
Dan mrtvih – Day of the Dead
Ledeni blud – Icy Debauchery
Finale

Kamov-Curse-front-cover

Also included are two articles: ‘Poe‘ – Kamov’s impression of Edgar Allan Poe and ‘Beneath the Aeroplane‘ his contemporaneous view of the beginnings of human aviation in Europe. Another addition is a collection of aphorisms published after his death in the Italian Futurist journal ‘Lacebra‘ in 1913.

I reconstructed the cover of the original 1907 edition.

It is available as a paperback, 50 pages, and ebook edition via Amazon.com here and Amazon.de, Amazon.it, Amazon.co.uk and also via many ebook channels such as Apple Books etc.

ebook ISBN: 978-1-912924-96-7
Printed edition ISBN-10: 1095863789 ISBN-13: 978-1095863787

You can listen to an online interview with me for Radio Rojc about translating Kamov and publishing in English here

Thank you to everyone who helped me with finishing this translation 🙂

Translating Kamov

Online interview from 2014

This is an interview conducted by Dario Sušanj for velikabritanija.net and published 09.09.2014. 

Janko Polić Kamov, a Croatian writer and a poet, died at a very young age, but left behind a major work of Croatian modernist literature: the novel ‘Isušena kaljuža’ (‘The Dried Up Mire’). Literary critics often agree that his work was way ahead of the worldwide movements which were to follow in the years after his death, like surrealism and modernism, with writers such as Joyce, Kafka and Camus later leading the way, and they often label Kamov’s work as ‘revolutionary’. However, Kamov’s novel and much of his work has never been translated into English and an Englishman living in Croatia, Martin Mayhew, is now working on translating Kamov’s important novel. As Martin is doing this, he is also compiling a unique glossary of archaic and almost forgotten Croatian words and phrases which he hopes will be useful to any future translators who may embark on a difficult task of translating a work of Croatian modernist literature into English.

“They set off on a walk. Across the square passed a funeral, a long cortège of men, women and some kind of craftsmen’s guild. The music slowly followed the sad and boring step, under the gloomy sky, on the unbearable Sunday, which had closed the shops, cleaned the marketplace, brought people out for a walk or made them yawn at the windows of their houses. It was after noon. There were people at the side, who were looking blankly at the procession. The colourful robes, both genders, young and old, all with the same looks, which were neither of sadness nor curiosity, but of a kind of long, protracted and half-dead look, that notices nothing, but sees everything. The tolling of bells rang out like somebody’s voices breaking up then returning, sinking and re-merging like a castaway at sea. Arsen stared at the coffin. Behind it there cried one young woman, throwing her head wildly into a handkerchief and twitching her shoulders as though wanting to shake off some burden.”

– An excerpt from the yet unpublished translation of “The Dried Up Mire” by Janko Polić Kamov, as translated by Martin Mayhew

Martin Mayhew has been living in Rijeka, Croatia, for about ten years; he first visited the country in 2000 as a journalist, on a tour organised by the Croatian Tourist Board, but in 2003 he moved from his hometown of Brighton to the city of Rijeka, one of the main ports in the Northern Adriatic and a city known for having a lively cultural and also alternative scene, not much unlike his own Brighton. As his association with Rijeka grew stronger and stronger, it is no wonder, of course, that Martin, as a lover of good literature, also quickly found out about the works of Rijeka-born writer and poet Janko Polić Kamov who had been briefly active in the early years of the 20th century. Martin decided to embark on a challenging and difficult task – we could even call it a linguistic adventure – to translate Kamov’s most important work, “The Dried Up Mire”, into English. This has never been done before, probably owing mostly to the complexity of the task and the fact that Kamov’s work is still not well known and recognised outside the region – even though he is often compared to other modernists such as Joyce or Kafka.

Martin recently published a few excerpts from his yet unpublished translation on his blog, hoping, of course, to be able to find a publisher who would be interested into bringing this key work of Croatian modernist literature one step closer to the English-speaking audience across the world. This is why I caught up with Martin, asking him a few questions about the challenges he faced whilst working on this translation.

Martin, this is a rather predictable question to begin with, but why Kamov? Except for the obvious Rijeka connection, how and why have you decided to translate his works?

When I first came to Croatia in 2000 I was given a copy of ‘Southerly Thoughts and Other Short Stories’ a collection of stories by Croatian writers. Amongst the collection were two by Janko Polić Kamov which grabbed my attention as being something extraordinary, gritty, uncompromising. A couple of years later when I began working as a translator in Rijeka I was approached to make an offer to translate his novel ‘Isušena Kaljuža’ into English. Unfortunately that deal did not come to fruition and so I decided to continue personally with the translation of Kamov’s work, primarily of his short stories which along the way would allow me to continue with the English version of his novel, the first chapter of which I had already completed and shelved. For me the more I translate his work, the more I relate to it, which is also something I think other readers experience and just recently I have discovered that there are also other people working on the translations of his works into two other languages.

Why do you feel that ‘The Dried Up Mire’ (‘Isušena kaljuža’) is or could be relevant to the English-speaking audiences today?

So many people here in Rijeka tell me that ‘Kaljuža’, and Kamov’s work in general, is very important for the history of Croatian literature, because it is said that his work was way ahead of the worldwide movements which were to follow after his death. Surrealism, modernism, avant-garde, existentialism and revolutionary are some of the labels which have been attached to his work. In his work he refers to the political events which were happening in Croatia (at his time under Austro-Hungarian rule), he was against the system and briefly spent time in prison for his political beliefs. In this sense he could be seen as a champion for independence or more clearly a champion against repression, hypocrisy, elitism etc. in general. His work deals mostly with the human condition, internal conflicts, heaven and hell, madness, the dark sides of life, society, sex, alcohol, violence, death and religion. He was an early pavement writer. So, in this way his relevance to the English-speaking audience is important in that his work, when translated well into English, will shed light on the history and literature of this part of the world, in a specific period of time but even more so on a style which pre-dates the movements which were approaching on the literary horizon.

“Isušena kaljuža” (“The Dried Up Mire”) by Janko Polić Kamov: today’s, modern edition to the left, and the original 1957 edition to the right. The original edition was first published almost 50 years after Kamov’s death.

Would you compare Kamov’s work to any of his contemporaries in the English-speaking world or, generally, in Europe? Kamov’s life was cut very short by illness, and while ‘Kaljuža’ is his most important work, who knows whether he might have even had a chance to be compared to the likes of Joyce and others, had he just lived longer?

Firstly I must say that I am not literary expert. My study of literature ended with secondary school Shakespeare in England, but saying that I do like to read, and Kamov’s work, for me, is exceptional and it certainly deserves to be translated well and published. In that way literary scholars can come to their conclusions about it. Yes, Croatian literary circles have compared Kamov to Joyce, Kafka and Camus and have concluded that ‘Isušena kaljuža’ is in the top ten of Croatian writing, if not number one. He himself was influenced by the writers of his time and makes references to them in his work. It would seem that his work was ignored or maybe even suppressed during his lifetime due to its content and possibly because of other, more influential writers. He wrote the novel from 1906-1909 but it didn’t see the light of day until 1957, almost fifty years after his death. If he had lived who knows what may have become of him.

I have followed your posts on Facebook as you worked on this translation and it seems you stumbled upon many Croatian words which have proven difficult, or at least challenging, to translate into English or even properly explain using modern Croatian. How difficult was it really to translate a modernist novel containing so many archaic words? 

Janko Polić Kamov was born in Rijeka, modern day Croatia but then part of the Austria-Hungary, on 17 November 1886, and died at a very young age, being just 23, on 8 August 1910 in Barcelona, Spain.

Kamov’s work includes a vocabulary a lot of which doesn’t seem to fit into what is today known as modern Croatian. Slavic versions of words from French, German, Italian are mixed in with what are now Serbian and Bosnian today which makes their translation into English a real investigation. This together with the fact that he uses two verb tenses – imperfect and aorist – which are virtually unused these days, and the flashbacks and surrealism in the stories which seem unconnected and random, plus the unusual syntactical structure of his sentences, means that translating his work, for me, has almost become a process of interpretation. Every now and then I will post a word on Facebook which I am struggling with and invite my friends to offer a solution, sometimes causing heated, but mostly good humoured, discussions.

You are also compiling a glossary of terms as you continue working on this translation. Do you feel this could be useful and relevant to other translators who might eventually decide to translate other works of literature from this period?

Yes, as I am translating his work I am compiling a glossary of almost every word he uses in all of his works – it contains at least three English equivalents of each word. In this way I don’t need to remember every single word when it appears again as I translate. In compiling this I have also compiled a dictionary of late 19th and early 20th centuries Serbo-Croatian to English from free online resources as well as a large selection of Croatian dialectal words. In this way I’m trying to use the English vocabulary from the same period as he wrote. In the end the final glossary of possibly 50,000 words should be a unique collection, which could be useful for the translation of similar period works.

Give us a top three words which you think even the native Croatian readers today would have trouble understanding and let’s see whether our readers have a problem with them! What are your English translations for these?

Well as Croatian is not my native tongue is it not so easy for me to say. Much of the time it is the context in which he uses the words and expressions which take time to translate. Here are three such examples in no particular order: none are a woman’s breasts (origin is still unclear), budlaj – werewolf (unknown origin),  bilikum – a special cup (German origin). Modern Croats would certainly have trouble understanding these without a proper explanation.

Another point to be taken into consideration is that over the decades various editions of his works have had some slight amendments made by publishers and editors – they have changed some spellings or even omitted words for whatever reasons, so I am trying to use the originally published versions for my translation.

Kamov’s statue on the bridge crossing the river Rječina in his home town of Rijeka, Croatia, is the work of the Croatian sculptor Zvonimir Kamenar.

Would you like to see any other Croatian authors translated into English? Any that you plan to do yourself, should you be successful in finding a publisher for Kamov’s work?

There is enough of Kamov’s work to be translated and published as a complete anthology. This would be a great personal achievement. Of course if the cultural, literary or even academic entities in Croatia could provide funding for such a venture in order to push Croatian literature out further into the English speaking world, it would be a great step forward in the appreciation of all the literature from this part of the world. I am sure that there are many Croatian authors, past and present, who deserve to be translated. In fact today in Rijeka itself there are numerous young writers, many of whom are admirers of Kamov’s work.

Are you in contact with any publishers, in Croatia or in the UK, who might be interested in publishing your translation when it’s finished?

Yes, I have been communicating sporadically with a couple of publishers in Croatia and the UK who have shown interest, but due to the economic climate in Croatia being as it is, and the fact that publishers outside the country have yet to fully appreciate Kamov’s work, it is proving difficult to make an impression.

Thank you so much for your time and this interview, Martin. Should our readers wish to find out more about you, I suggest they have a look at your blog and, of course, if they feel that they can help you in finding a publisher and finishing your work, they are certainly free to get in touch!

*****

This interview was conducted by Dario Sušanj for velikabritanija.net and published 09.09.2014.

Since this interview I have published my first book of my translations of Kamov’s works – a collection of 12 short stories – ‘Farces & Novellas‘ (May 2018) which is available at Amazon (paperback) and all other online ebook stores.

In May 2019 I published my second book of the work of Janko Polić Kamov – the translation of a collection of nine poems which he published in 1907 – ‘Psovka‘ (‘The Curse‘). More info here

Gustav Mahler – Symphony 4, Opatija

gustav mahler opatija

Gustav Mahler was amongst the many great composers, artists, celebrities, nobility and royalty who spent their holidays resting and finding inspiration on the Opatija Riviera. During one of his stays he composed his Symphony No. 4 and this was the basis of this unique exhibition put together by the Croatian Museum of Tourism. Director of the museum Gabrijela Krmpotić Kos researched and uncovered many details of his stay and they provide a superb insight into his compositions, reputation and life. The exhibition is part of the ongoing ‘Famous Guests in Opatija’ series.

This is another excellent exhibition which I was proud to be part of as the English translator. More information here.

On Winged Wheels to Opatija’s Riviera

On Winged Wheels to Opatija’s Riviera – 145th anniversary of the building of the Vienna – Opatija – Rijeka and the Budapest – Rijeka railway and 110th anniversary of Opatija’s tramway is an extensive and fascinating exhibition by the Croatian Museum of Tourism being held in Opatija’s famous Villa Angiolina until 31st October 2019.

The arrival of the railway and the electric tramway meant the rapid development of tourism in Opatija and the whole region. The exhibition details every step of the construction, implementation and running of the whole system even including human stories of the workers, drivers and the local people involved.

This is another excellent project which I am glad to have been involved as the English translator, working on the exhibition texts and promotional materials.

You can find more info here.
Plus a report by HRT TV here.