Author Archives: MagicaTransla

About MagicaTransla

Denise Muir is a creative commercial and literary translator who delights in writing, telling and translating stories. She is also Magicamente Translations, a professional linguist who looks beyond the words of a text to find the magic. By then recreating that magic in English, she strives to set sparks alight on the page and to touch people by what she (or rather, her clients) have to say. She is also an advocate of Italy’s indy publishing sector and promoter of strong female voices tackling big issues, as well as working in schools to champion diversity in children’s literature.

La Cosa Piu’ Importante – The Most Important Thing

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Where have I been?

It’s been a bit too long since my last post and while I’d like to say I’ve been away setting the world  to rights, I haven’t.

But I did read a book about it.   It’s called La cosa piu’ importante – The Most Important Thing.  And it’s all about putting the world back together.

Laura Novello  and Matteo Gaule

Laura Novello
and Matteo Gaule

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Le Parole Scappate – Runaway Words – by Arianna Papini

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Runaway Words – Le Parole Scappate

Another city, another book fair, another bag full of books.

Italian books, by Italian authors, published by independent Italian publishers. And all on show at Rome’s Piu’ Libri Piu’ Liberi (“the more books we read, the more free we become”) which turned out to be an excellent event, full of interesting people, interesting workshops, and most of all, amazing books. So what to read first?

Having a long  journey to face afterwards, I opted for all the children’s ones…  hours of Italian children’s books …the perfect way to while away the journey home from a busy weekend in Italy’s eternal city with the little lady.

By coincidence,  the first one we picked was by the same author – Arianna Papini – whose book “E’ una parola”  I was enthusing about last month.

Le Parole Scappate – which would translate literally as “Runaway Words” – is a story narrated  in two voices: a young dyslexic boy and his Alzheimer-suffering grandmother.

Runaway Words
(a possible Italian to English translation)

Having picked up so many books at the fair, I had completely forgotten what this one was about, so when I read the first few sentences, it took me a few seconds to get my bearings. For me that’s a good sign it’s going to be a great read. When the first page throws you, shakes you about and forces you to sit up and pay attention you know it’s going to be a gripping journey.

If you like the sound of it, read on.

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Italian short stories: A pee in Paris

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UNiTE through literature

Every month or so, I’ll be publishing the English translations of  Italian short stories that I’ve come across and liked.

I read Pipi’ a Paris by Carmen Vella a few months ago, but today being the International Day for the elimination of Violence Against Women, it came back to me.

Orange Day

Orange Your World

Say No! UNiTE to end Violence against Women.

Instead of talking about physical violence, this short story made me think about the other forms of violence inflicted on women. And not always by men. Women are often just as guilty … for inflicting pain and humiliation on each other, and for failing to stick together.

The fact that this can happen right under our noses, not in distant countries or behind closed doors, is even more shocking.

The story’s called Pipi’ a Paris  in Italian, and I’ve named it “A Pee in Paris” in English.

It starts like this:

Rich people, nowadays, really tick me off.
They stand there with a Louis Vuitton bag on their shoulders or a Rolex glittering on their wrists, complaining that the crisis is really starting to bite this year. Thoroughbreds in Dior blinkers, that’s what they are.
Me, I’m a wedding planner. An apprentice wedding planner, to be more precise. I plan weddings for people who’ve got enough money not to have to do it themselves.
Like madam here: Luisella Berrini Della Porta. Beige coat with cropped sleeves and caked-on foundation in the same colour.
“Marta, how about going to the Jardin des Tuileries next? They’re just so fabulous, I’ve always thought, and I’d like them to be the setting for my photo shoot,” she asks me, tucking her blond highlights neatly behind her ears.
We’re at Ville Lumière, where she’ll be joining her long-term fiance’ Gianfranco Magri in holy matrimony, after almost 10 years together. The hustle and bustle of shopping on the Champs-Élysées must be making her feel hot, as her upper lip is beaded with sweat.

Read more in English

Read the original Italian.

Luis Sepúlveda The Story of a cat and the mouse that became his friend

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Spanish, Italian..and the English??

Browsing the bookshelf in the newsagents the other day, a slim, orange book with a catching cover jumped out at me. That may have been because it was the only yellowy one in the lineup (fave colour) or because I’m feeling a bit more amenable towards cats at the moment, having just acquired a particularly fluffy feline friend of my own. Something drew me to it anyway, so I picked it up. And brought it home. Kind of the same thing that happened with the kitten.

Luis Sepúlveda The story of a cat and the mouse that became his friend

Luis Sepúlveda
The story of a cat and the mouse that became his friend

I know this is supposed to be a blog about Italian books, and the Chilean writer, film director, journalist and political activist “from the end of the world” writes in Spanish, but have a look at the title of today’s book: Storia di un gatto e del topo che divento’ suo amico.  It’s in Italian. Translated from the original Spanish.  The English version may be coming. Or it may not. Read on in if you’d like a sneak preview.  It really is a lovely story.

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Friendship: more than a word

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Following in the spirit of last week’s Secret Language series… today’s post has something to do with secrets as well, and since it’s Sunday, I thought I’d also relax with an lovely children’s picture book that I found in a bookshop in Pescara.

What is it? I wish I knew.

E' Una Parola Arianna Papini

E’ Una Parola
Arianna Papini

Ask an Italian a difficult question,  one of those one million dollar ones that are so tricky to find the right answer to, maybe a definition for something  that you just can’t put your finger on, and they will reply:

E’ una parola! 

Literally, this translates as “It’s a word” but what it actually means is:  I wish I knew!

It’s also the name of a beautiful book by Arianna Papini, published in Italian by Kalandraka.

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Multilingual Blogging Day 2013 – Secret Language Series 3

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Thanks for checking back in for Episode 3.

This post is going to discuss one of the secrets of translated fiction, the “to foreword or not to foreword” question; well, for two Pescara authors anyway: Paolo Di Vincenzo, who I’ve been chatting to in previous posts, and a new entry on this blog post, Marcello Nicodemo.   Marcello has already published four novels: Nel Fuoco (alla fine del sogno), Di li’ a poco sarebbe piovuto, Ferragosto in Famiglia, e Voci del Purgatorio which I’ll be covering in more detail in coming weeks.

But before I ask Paolo and Marcello how they feel about literature in translation, what about you?

I’ve just finished a webinar with Oliver Lawrence on how to translate for the travel and tourism industry, and the distinction he drew between the types of reader her translates for – travellers and tourists – made me think of the to foreword or not to foreword debate in translated fiction. When you read a book translated from another language and cultural context, are you looking for the authentic experience and want to find your way around the new context by yourself – so no foreword- or are you one of those people who gets the guidebook and studies it from cover to cover before setting off, like you would with a foreword?

In translated literature, as in world travel, some people prefer to go off the map, while others go for the risk reduction option, safe in the knowledge that there won’t be any surprises.

Tourist or traveller?

Tourist or traveller?

So, are you a tourist or a traveller when it comes to translated fiction?  Should cultural context be served up on a plate, or should the reader be allowed to explore it, completely off the map??

I asked both authors,  …in Italian.

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Multilingual Blogging Day 2013: Secret Language Series 2

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Thanks for checking back in for another instalment of the Secret Language Series for Multilingual Blogging Day 2013

Who dunnit? Not telling!!! 

To find out who got the gold in Il Mistero dell’Oro di Dongo, you’ll probably have to read the book, sorry! But in the meantime, I’ve become a bit of a sleuth myself, and managed to put my second language skills to good use, as I contacted the author, Paolo di Vincenzo, for a chat. 

Ci sono molto vantaggi di avere una seconda lingua, il primo ovviamente e’ poter leggere dove era e chi ha trovato l’Oro di Dongo! Mi dispiace, io non ve lo posso svelare (rovinerebbe la sorpresa, adesso che avete acquisto il libro!) ma ho pensato di mettere la mia seconda lingua e vostro disposizione, per riportare qualche notizia direttamente dal autore stesso, Paolo Di Vincenzo.

In verita’, avrei potuto fare a meno di tirare fuori quest’arma letale (il mio italiano!) perche’ anche Paolo ha una seconda lingua: inglese!

Pazienza, come dicono in Italia, la vita e’ bella e andiamo avanti cosi. 

Introducing Paolo Di Vincenzo

paolo di vincenzo

Paolo’s writing has a very journalistic feel to it, having worked in the news industry for more than 27 years.

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2013 Multilingual Blogging – Secret Language Series – 1

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Segreti, in un’altra lingua 

C’e’ un segreto da scoprire.. ed e’ grande, molto grande.  E con la mia seconda lingua, Italiano, vorrei cercare di entrare dove di solito non posso andare con l’inglese…in un  libro in italiano. Scritto da un autore di Pescara che ho conosciusto al recente Festival delle Letterature di Pescara.  Un libro che ha a che fare con un personaggio altrettanto grande della storia d’Italia… anzi due,  il fondatore del fascismo e dittatore italiano Benito Mussolino e Gabriele D’Annunzio, poeta e scrittore  Pescarese, nonche’ politico e giornalista.

Che c’entra l’uno con l’altro? E’ perche’ sono i personaggi principali di un romanzo giallo che porta il lettore in un viaggio alla conoscenza del Mistero dell’Oro di Dongo?

Andiamo a scoprire.  

Detective Denise Secret language series Looking at literature

Detective Denise
Secret language series
Looking at literature

Myth and mystery.. in another language

Well, this mystery that I’m going to try and solve with my super second language at the ready is so big,  it could change the course of European history as we know it.

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2013 Multilingual Blogging Day

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Speaking a second language… what’s that all about?

Today it’s about Multilingual Blogging, Internet Week Europe and highlighting the multilingual dimension of the web.

The rest of the time it’s normally just work for me, but for my 8-year old… it’s much, more more ……..

Compiti d'Italiano Testo Narrativo.  M. Di Nella, 8 anni

Compiti d’Italiano
Testo Narrativo.
M. Di Nella, 8 anni

Ooh, speaking English, my daughter’s first-second-first language (not sure, she’s bilingual) is like a secret language for her. That makes it sound quite magical (or cloak and dagger, depending on your point of view), but however you see it, the sense is definitely one of getting special entry to a world and to information that would otherwise be inaccessible. 

Speaking a second language, or reading a book in a translated language, opens up new worlds and makes you feel at home in strange lands. And it can set a child’s imagination on fire, as Philip Pullman states in the foreword to Outside In’sChildren’s Books in Translation” publication and as my daughter told her teacher in last night’s homework. She feels like she has special powers, she feels special, that’s certainly got to rate high on the what-to-give-your-child for Christmas list! A second language.

Chiedere …. sempre in incognito

Allora, cogliendo lo spirito da detective di mia figlia, usero’ la mia seconda lingua,  italiano, per indagare un po’ sulla letteratura e vedere quello che scopro.

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Like history? No. Well the Mussolini mystery’s for you.

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Who likes history? Not me. 

I must admit.. I’ve always found history a bit of a mystery. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I once bought one of those ” History of Everything For Dummies” books in an attempt to get some big dates and important people into my head. But nothing. It just doesn’t work, books full of facts aren’t for me.  Nothing sticks. I was beginning to wonder if I was going about it the wrong way.
I was.
A few years later I stumbled on the historical novel and the penny dropped.   Real places and real people, all knitted together into a made-up story. That was the glue I needed to make it all stick. Maybe there was hope after all.

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