Thu 07 March 2013

Notes from the Underground #19

Behind the scenes at citybooks there are dozens of translators and editors of literature busy making each story available in a variety of languages. Rachel McNicholl translated Lydia Mischkulnig’s original German text Neugier venezianisch into English and reveals how citybooks have transformed her into an enthusiastic ‘bed-time traveller’.

© rachel mcnicholl

Translating Venice

It was Austrian author Lydia Mischkulnig who introduced me to citybooks. I had already translated a couple of texts of hers, so I was delighted when she suggested that deBuren might consider me for the English translation of her Venice story. I loved the citybooks concept as soon as I explored the website. Before I had even started the Venice translation, I had been to Charleroi and Tbilisi, places I knew very little about. I listened to the downloads tucked up in bed in wintry Ireland: the beauty of this ‘pillow travelling’ is that you are transported to a citybook destination as you empty your mind of the day’s cares…and wake up more curious than ever to go there. If you happen to fall asleep before the story ends – well, you just play it again, Sam!

© rachel mcnicholl

I’ve been to Venice a few times, but I made several new discoveries through Lydia’s Curiosity 'alla veneziana'. I definitely want to see Teatro Marinoni in the Ospedale al Mare, if it survives. And I want to take a peek at Casanova’s letters (missing signature and all) in the Querini Stampalia. By pure coincidence, I was editing an essay about Ireland’s pavilion at the 2012 architecture Biennale around the same time as Lydia’s Venice text arrived in my Inbox, so by the end of the month, I was itching to go back. When the rest of the Venice citybooks go online it’ll be high time for another trip to La Serenissma!


Rachel McNicholl (translator)


Photos © Rachel McNicholl


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