Esther Kinsky Appointed August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professor in Poetics of Translation at Freie Universität Berlin

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German Translators’ Fund Sponsors Teaching Appointment during 2017/2018 Winter Semester

‘ 164/2017 from Jun 16, 2017

The translator and writer Esther Kinsky will be the August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professor of the Poetics of Translation during the 2017/2018 fall/winter semester. The August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professorship was set up in 2007 by the Deutsche Übersetzerfonds (German Translators’ Fund e.V.) and Freie Universität Berlin. It is the first chair devoted to the poetics of translation in German-speaking countries. Each year the visiting professorship is awarded to an experienced literary translator who teaches during the fall/winter semester at the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature.

Esther Kinsky was born in 1956 and grew up near Bonn. She majored in Slavic studies at the university, lived in London for many years, later in Budapest, and since 2009 she has been living in Berlin and Battonya (Hungary). Since the mid-1980s, she has been a literary translator of Polish, Russian, and English into German. At the same time, she has also published original works in prose and poetry, as well as essays.

As a translator, Kinsky’s main focus is on Polish and Anglo-American literature. The Polish writers Zygmunt Haupt, Olga Tokarczuk, Magdalena Tulli, and Joanna Bator gained a German-speaking audience through her translations. Within the context of an aesthetics of nature writing, she translated works by Henry David Thoreau, James Leslie Mitchell, and John Clare. In an essay "Fremdsprechen. Gedanken zum Übersetzen" (2013), Kinsky describes her experiences with creating words and renaming, of making images and sounds speak in another language. Highlights from Kinsky’s own literary work include the novels Sommerfrische (2009), Banatsko (2011), and Am Fluß (2014) and the volumes of poetry Aufbruch nach Patagonien (2012) and Am kalten Hang (2016).

Esther Kinsky is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Paul-Celan-Preis for outstanding translations into German (2009), the Dedecius Prize for translations between German and Polish literature (2011), the Franz Hessel Prize for Contemporary Literature for French and German authors (2014), the Kranichsteiner Literaturpreis (2015), and the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize (2016).

"Poetics of Translation" - the ambitious title of this chair defines its program. Its objective is not to offer practical exercises in translation skills for literary scholars, but rather critical reflections on methods of translation, both one’s own and others, as well as comparative text analysis (original and translation, translation variants). In addition, this visiting endowed chair is intended to be a prominent space for the reflection of historical methods and theories of literary translation. Naming it after August Wilhelm von Schlegel symbolizes this expectation, as Schlegel’s work brilliantly combined philological research, poetry writing, and literary translations.

The German Translators’ Fund e.V. and the Peter Szondi Institute regard the August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professorship as a significant step toward establishing an appreciation of literary translation as an independent artistic achievement.

Esther Kinsky will hold a public inaugural lecture on November 1, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. in the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin (Dorotheenstraße 12, 10117 Berlin).


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