As we all know, authors and translators share a great many attributes but it is what distinguishes them that is truly fascinating. And what differentiates them? Perspective.
The author stands besides the ocean shore listening to the sound of the waves, occasionally wetting his/her toes in the foam or even going for a swim in the warm water. The translator sees the same ocean… on a postcard or if they’re lucky they may catch a glimpse of the ocean from afar. The author feels the ocean and is acutely aware of everything in and around it. Yes, the translator may have a better sense of the whole and may be able to grasp its entirety, like running his/her finger over a picture of all its waters, but it is the author who can recall the smell of the air, the temperature of the sand or the brightness of the sun on the beach.
Translation is all about perception and reaction. The translator must observe, analyse, understand and perceive the original text and then react to it. Translation is a response, an emotional reaction to the text. Authorship, on the other hand, is all about description and pro-action. The author describes his/her feelings and ideas and then reaches out with these to his/her audience.
Translation remains a quandary because the translator is obliged to create a text that appears to have all the characteristics of an authorial text. The translation must appear to be descriptive, unique and the first attempt to reach out to the audience with these feelings. In fact, it’s very much like expecting the same emotional response when seeing the ocean as seeing a picture of the ocean…