|My Polish translators, Kat and Carrie|
When I learned that my short story "The Peculiar Persecution of John Vincent Harden" was being translated into Polish, I was not only excited but intrigued to know a little about my two translators. I sent them some questions that I thought might interest you readers as well. Here are their answers in living color.
First, tell us a little about yourselves – age range, where you live, that sort of thing.
CR: Well, my name is Karolina Kogut and I’m a highly-functioning sociopath. Just kidding. I’m 27, I live in Sieradz in central Poland and I’m a professional translator. I studied English philology and have specializations in translation of literature and texts concerning Gothic architecture, but I translate all sorts of texts. My nickname is Carrie Rooster, which is the literal translation of my real name.
KJ: My name is Katarzyna Jabłońska, I am 35. I am a self-learner in English and an amateur translator. I live in Warsaw and earn for the living working in an advertising agency.
How and when did you first get acquainted with Mr. Sherlock Holmes?
CR: I don’t remember the first time when I read the stories. It must have been when I was still at primary school. We have at home a very old edition of A Study in Scarlet, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Sign of Four in one volume. Judging by a faded stamp, it was stolen years ago by my father from some long non-existing military library… So, it’s no surprise that a book with such a criminal past attracted my attention. I started reading and, in a manner of speaking, never stopped.
KJ: Can't remember, to be honest. After all these years it seems like Sherlock Holmes was always in my life. I do remember that we had one book of Sherlock's adventures at home when I was a kid, so probably that was the spark.
Is Holmes popular in Poland?
CR: That’s a complicated question, because everybody knows Sherlock Holmes, but not everybody reads the original stories. Sadly, Polish fans are not so well-organized as British and American ones. I’m surprised I even found Kat!
What other mystery characters are popular in Poland, either in books or in visual media (TV, movies)?
CR: Agatha Christie’s characters: Poirot and Miss Marple. Apart from them there are many more or less popular investigators, but none so well-recognized.
Are there a lot of translations of the original Holmes stories available in Poland? How about pastiches?
KJ: All Sherlock Holmes adventures were translated into Polish. To be honest I have no idea about pastiches. I was so in love with the original Sherlock Holmes that I didn't want to read anything except the canon. It changed only a half year ago, with Sherlock's Home – The Empty House, and of course now with your stories, Dan.
KJ: I am familiar with translations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes adventures from '60 and '70 and I have to say that I find them quite good. I learn a lot from those works in my work as a translator of Sherlock Holmes stories. But I also think that modern translations would be a little bit different, because the language has changed since that time. Of course I know that the text of the story didn't change since Sir Doyle wrote it, but the way of translating has evolved.
CR: Unfortunately, I’ve never encountered any pastiche. Concerning original Holmes stories, there are a few translations, most of them quite old. There is also a new translation, but it’s horrible. The old ones are good when you read them, but when you compare them to the original, there are some inaccuracies. Besides, language has changed since the sixties-seventies and some expressions are now outdated.
How did you become Holmes translators?
CR: I was waiting for that question ;-) It’s a funny story. I heard that the Undershaw Preservation Trust and MX Publishing were looking for translators of Sherlock’s Home: The Empty House. I sent my very detailed CV to Steve Emecz from MX Publishing and got the job. Kat sent only two sentences and got the job as well…
KJ: Do you prefer the short or the long version?
The short version is: I wrote an e-mail to Steve Emecz saying that if they collect enough money to do additional language I can translate Sherlock's Home – The Empty House into Polish. Two weeks later he wrote back and we got the job.
The long version is a bit more romantic, I guess: I liked Sherlock Holmes from the very beginning. I like detective stories, all the CSIs, and so on. I was always wondering if it would be possible to put Sherlock into modern days. One night, skipping through channels on my TV, I came across some strange murder mystery and started to watch it. I was watching „A Study in Pink” – but I didn't know that at the time. I just knew I was watching modern Sherlock. It was so interesting and brilliant that I wanted to find out more about it, so I did some Internet research. I've found BBC Sherlock and all that is connected to it. I have also found the Save Undershaw campaign and a Kickstarter platform, where MX Publishing was collecting money for Sherlock's Home – The Empty House to go international. They were also looking for volunteer translators, so I wrote to Steve Emecz, that I am willing to do this, if he finds money for publishing. He did. Two weeks later - two weeks before Christmas - I got e-mail from him saying that there are two of us from Poland to do the job. That was the first time I've heard about Carrie. We were both concerned how our cooperation would look like, whether we get along, but it just went surprisingly smooth.
How is the translation of “The Peculiar Case of John Vincent Harden” – as you are calling it in Polish – going? Do you have an idea when it will be available?
CR: Yes, it’s “case” because “persecution” just doesn’t sound good as a title. But we have the lovely alliteration – “przedziwny przypadek.” I’ve finished my part and Kat almost finished hers. Then the story will be proofread and proofread once again J Hard to say exactly, as we do it after daily job (and I never know when I can get a commission), but it shouldn’t take long now.
What’s next on your translation agenda?
After finishing The Empty House we wanted to work on something else together, something Sherlock-related would be perfect. And so there came “The Peculiar Persecution of John Vincent Harden”. Next one is “Benedict Cumberbatch: In Transition” by Lynette Porter.