Lost: Ein Translator
Around and around it goes.
Yesterday my partner, the Weaver, had commented on the fine language in her current reading material, World Light by Halldór Laxness. She wondered about the translation, how it seemed to capture the humor and authenticity of that strange and beautiful novel. “Magnús Magnússon, Icelandic born, raised and educated in Scotland, a BBC television personality and prolific translator and author in his own right.” My tendency toward blurbiness had never been so accurate or concise.
Later in the afternoon, I read ECS’s current post about her recent trip to the Snæfells peninsula. That inspired the quote from World Light (Magnússon's translation, of course) that graced my post last night. After I had written that, I read Alda’s latest post and there, near the end, was a note stating that: “… Magnús Magnússon, one of the best-known Icelanders of all time, has died in the UK. May he rest in peace.”
It isn’t often that a translator gets a big obituary, he was far better known for hosting a TV game show. But I find that as I look through my humble library his name appears on nearly a dozen books. A translator has a unique role in human communications. His or her mind must become the bridge between languages, between cultures, between people. Magnússon’s television career will be a forgotten memory within a generation. His work with Laxness, the Icelandic Sagas, and his own Icelandic histories should last through the next millenium and beyond.
My day was a series of coincidences, to be sure, but ultimately not happy ones when they are connected to the passing of a person who touched many lives.
Laxness in Translation