CSUSM alumni share the process of translating world literature  


Photo taken from LTWR Department website.

CSUSM alumni discuss the process of translating world literature.

Nijat Mamtimen, Staff Writer

The CSUSM Literature and Writing Department hosted an Alumni Reading event as part of their Community and World Literary Series on Nov. 18 via Zoom.   

The special guests were Erica Wahlgren, Elizabeth Masters and Thomas Bricke, who explained their translation process of Hans Falada’ s fiction The Little Story: Der Geschichte der Kleinen Geschichte. All three authors earned their M.A. in Literature and Writing studies at CSUSM. 

Hans Falada was a German novelist who followed the idea of Neue Sachlichkeit (new objective) of realism since the 1920s. The Little Story, a children’s book, originated from Falada’s life. He would narrate the story to his children at dinner times for the joy of family gatherings.

Mr. Brike explained the obstacles faced during the translation process, writing a German text into English, and the main plot of the story that was written for children.

“In the original story, the child was nameless, and here the main character is referred to as Reux and/or by a nonbinary pronoun. It was a deliberate attempt to move beyond gender that proved difficult to resolve at first. With the help of my editor Erica Wahlgren and a late summer afternoon brainstorming session, I believe we were able to accomplish the task,” said Brike. 

“With the captivating illustrations by Elizabeth Roush, we were well on our way to achieving the goal of creating a story that is neither about a boy or a girl but rather of a childhood moment that Hans Fallada so beautifully captured and that we can all relate to.”

Mr. Brike also provided two writing tips for translation works. First, word choice is a priority job in writing because finding an accurate word, installing it in the exact sentence and connecting it with the proper word can translate a foreign story as close as its meaning into English. As a writer, he suggested revision should be done daily in order to adjust, delete or rearrange a word or sentence. To make a logical and educated sentence, he rewrote a sentence seven times in The Little Story

Erica Wahlgren also provided attendees with a useful writing tip. She said that when revising a piece of writing, reading out loud is helpful to detect writing errors. 

The Community and World Literary Series holds multiple on-campus literary readings throughout the semester. Their next event in the series, Black Took Collective, will be held on Dec. 9. For more information on events held by the CSUSM Literature and Writing Department, please visit https://www.csusm.edu/ltwr/news/cwls.html.