Welcome back and apologies for the long absence! All that Italian food has kept me busy, eating and reading. We continue the guest posts by translators for Hersilia Press with a piece by Iain Halliday, who translated for us the very successful Inspector Cataldo’s Criminal Summer and works at the University of Catania writing on translation. Iain also has his own blog at http://iainhalliday.wordpress.com. Thank you Iain for your post!
I was very pleased back in 2009 when asked by Hersilia Press to translate La calda estate del commissario Cataldo: in the first instance because I enjoyed reading Luigi Guicciardi’s novel very much and then because I hadn’t translated for some time, having dedicated time to reading and writing about translation – my job at the University of Catania is as a teacher and researcher in English language and translation.
Two affinities in particular that drew me further into Cataldo’s mission to solve the mysterious murders in Guiglia are contained in that last sentence. Like the ill-fated characters of Giulio Zoboli and Luigi Ramondini, I work in an Italian university and consequently know much of that environment. Then there’s the fact that Inspector Cataldo himself comes from Catania in Sicily, the town where I’ve been living for the past twenty years. When Cataldo in one of his homesick moments reminisces about his seafront walk at Ognina with Agata (also the name of the city’s patron saint), I have a very clear vision of where they are. On the culinary front, I also know and much appreciate all those mouthwatering dishes Cataldo lists. And then I know a fair number of men who, like Cataldo, live up to the Sicilian (Italian?) stereotype of being perpetual mummy’s boys.
All these things brought me closer to the text, but ultimately it is narrative drive that keeps us (readers and translators) going. (The translator, of course, is principally a reader, a sort of every-reader, before he or she performs the task of reproducing the text in another language.) Cataldo is a good read: his tenacity, his wry sense of humour and his human interest – both as a character and in terms of his own interest in the other characters he (and we) meet – keep us turning those pages.