Spring 2018. I am deep into a new project of literary translation, punctuated by editorial work for the World Bank, Campus France, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the International Renewable Energy Agency. Too much of this website is out of date (in the sense of not reporting the latest developments), but my resume, project list, and contact information are current. What can I do for you?
Today, particularly in institutional settings, texts often are assembled rather than written. What gets left out in the process, in addition, obviously, to the author's voice and attention to the reader's eyes and mental ears, is the concern for elegance, brevity, sequence, rhythm, connection, and flow. I fix that. I pare text to its essentials, and match it to its audience. I help authors who speak other languages recognize themselves—in English. I impart consistency and an even voice to texts by multiple authors who write and think in different registers and with different vocabularies. It is a recondite but satisfying quest.
A decade as a successful association publications director taught me to apply the publisher’s and the reader’s perspectives simultaneously in all my projects. Often I serve as writer-editor and project manager (recruiting and supervising translators, copyeditors, designers, and printers). Knowledge of the entire publishing process improves coherence, speeds delivery, and adds value.
Over a period of 40+ years I have translated thousands of pages of technical, legal, and corporate French. Recent work includes Bernard-Henri Lévy's The Genius of Judaism, published by Random House in 2017. This was preceded by a sumptuous catalogue for a major exhibition of the works of Jan Fabre and Félicien Rops at the Musée Félicien Rops in Namur, Belgium, in 2015; a lovely coffee table book about the town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, full of whimsy (2014); and a catalog and signage for an exhibition entitled "The Adventures of Truth: Painting and Philosophy" at the Fondation Maeght (2013). These were preceded by illustrated histories of the French embassy residences in Washington and Ottawa, regular work for Campus France, the French national agency responsible for promoting higher education in France, and the weekly columns of French writer Bernard-Henri Lévy.
My fascination with translation began in college with Baudelaire and Rimbaud. In what sense, I wondered, were the English renditions "the same" as the originals ? Four decades later, I still don't know. In much of my work the question is moot—the translation works if it accomplishes the same purpose as the original. With literature, art, philosophy, and rhetoric, however, the question is not moot at all; it haunts and fascinates. In a deep sense, translation, like acting, is a sort of subordinated creativity—bounded in that one must operate within the bounds of the script.
Most—not all—of my writing is an extension of my editing work. I supply summaries, segues, intros, signposts, shortcuts, links, and transitions that authors, in their zeal, sometimes leave out. I'm good at speaking plainly about complex subjects. I'm logical. I choose verbs and nouns that make adverbs and adjectives unnecessary.