Translation Becomes Eclectic, Volume 2

A Journal of Translation and Intercomprehension Studies

The Clorinda Donato Center for Global Romance Languages and Translation Studies is pleased to announce the publication of volume 2 of Translation Becomes Eclectic, a journal of Translation and Intercomprehension Studies at California State University, Long Beach. This second volume showcases the excellent work of 15 student translators from FREN 460/560 (The Art of Translation), ITAL 460 (Exploring Italian Translation), and RGR 603 (Theory and Practice of Literary Translation). As evidenced by the eclectic list of titles below, the students in these courses worked in a variety of languages, translating pieces of fiction from around the world. While supplies last, you can arrange to pick up a free copy of volume 2 by emailing Alessandra Balzani (Program Coordinator, Donato Center) at Below you will find Dr. Clorinda Donato's preface to volume 2, as well as the full table of contents. We hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as we have!

Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost. To tell
About those woods is hard—so tangled and rough

And savage that thinking of it now, I feel
The old fear stirring: death is hardly more bitter.
And yet, to treat the good I found there as well

I’ll tell what I saw, though how I came to enter
I cannot well say, being so full of sleep
Whatever moment it was I began to blunder

Off the true path. But when I came to stop
Below a hill that marked one end of the valley
That had pierced my heart with terror, I looked up

Toward the crest and saw its shoulders already
Mantled in rays of that bright planet that shows
The road to everyone, whatever our journey.

Robert Pinsky’s translation of Canto I, 1–15 of Inferno

One of the most translated works of all time is Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Dante wrote the Divine Comedy over multiple years, finishing it one year before his death in 1321. Since 2021 constitutes the 700-year anniversary of his death, this preface to this second volume featuring the work of student translators at California State University, Long Beach wishes to commemorate Dante, the poet, by reflecting on the success of his masterpiece among translators, and in particular, translators who are poets themselves. Many years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Robert Pinsky, poet laureate of the United States, talk about how he had joined the illustrious cadre of Dante Alighieri poet-translators, to craft his own translation of Dante’s oft-rendered work into English. Although he had never before translated, he had been invited to translate one canto of the Divine Comedy for an anthology. He found the task of translating Dante so satisfying, that he decided to attempt a full translation of the Inferno into English, even though he didn’t know Italian. This did not deter him. Pinsky, the only poet to have ever held the position of poet laureate for three terms, explained that he had found in Dante Alighieri’s evocation of the selva oscura or dark woods a powerful metaphor for depression, a depression that he himself had been experiencing. He found his own emotions of hopelessness and helplessness reflected in the words of a poet who had written them some 700 years prior to his reading them. And although he had accessed these words in English translation, none of the translations he had read fully satisfied his poet’s soul, his poet’s intuition. Despite the shortcomings of these translations, he still sensed a depth of pain and human despair that he hoped to transmit more clearly to modern audiences. He was careful to praise the brilliance and beauty of Longfellow’s translation, but he found that it was too difficult for sustained reading by contemporary, American audiences. As you can see from his translation of the opening lines of the poem that provide an epigraph to this preface, Pinsky’s voice is clear and profound, “carrying over” Dante’s meaning through his connection with the text. Pinsky often referred to the etymology of the word “to translate” as the carrying over of meaning that could never become the same as the original, but that comes into being as an iteration, which in turn, awaits the sensibilities of new translators who wish to capture what they sense that others have missed. But ultimately, Pinsky told of the poem’s message of hope and fulfillment for those who seek answers, seek a way out of the dark woods of their loneliness and solitude. He believes in the transformational power of literature, and in particular, translation. When asked to compare translation to writing, Pinsky answered, “It was like writing, but I didn’t have to think about what to say next!” Among the things he most wanted to improve in previous translations, he mentioned tempo. “Dante moves fast!” He said. He wanted to bring back that same nimbleness of movement that he felt all English translations lacked. He wanted to restore Dante’s swiftness and sureness as he moved through his journey from hell to paradise. Pinsky’s translation of Inferno won the Academy of American Poets award that year. The award poets award to other poets. 

Robert Pinsky translated for the first time with the Inferno, and was thrilled and humbled by the experience “Of writing without having to figure out what to say.” In the tradition of great translators, then, the students whose translations appear in this second volume of The Clorinda Donato Center’s translation journal of student work, Translation Becomes Eclectic, have also translated for the first time. You can hear something of their own awe before the texts they selected in their prefaces, of their connections with reading and relating to an author’s words that made them want to carry them overWhether short fiction, flash fiction, or excerpts from longer works, the students have translated from and into multiple languages, increasing these texts’ accessibility to ever greater numbers of readers. The nineteen stories that fill these pages have been translated by fourteen different students from two different translation classes, Dr. Aparna Nayak’s translation courses for students of French and Italian, FREN 460/560 and ITAL 460, and my own literary translation class, RGR 603, the Theory and Practice of Literary Translation. Please join us in experiencing the pleasure of receiving on the other side of literary translation, as readers to whom translators have carried over human experience.

Clorinda Donato, Fall 2021

  • Preface
    Written by Clorinda Donato
  • L’affaire Moro / The Moro Affair
    Translated by Diego Brol Batres
  • Una donna / A Woman
    Translated by Breanna Campos
  • Willing / Compiacente
    Translated by Mary Caputi
  • How to Gasp for Your Life / Como aspirar por tú vida and A Womyn’s Place / El lugar de la muxer
    Translated by Érika Cárdenas
  • Fallait pas / Shouldn’t Have, Un train d’enfer / A Train Ride to Hell, Caillou dans la chaussure / Like a Pebble in a Shoe, and Survivre / Survive
    Translated by Ame Chang
  • Volevo i pantaloni / I Wanted Pants
    Translated by Emily Cota
  • L’Heure blanche / The White Hour
    Translated by Sherida Hendrix
  • The Help
    Translated by Isabelle Kelman
  • The Fool / Le Mât
    Translated by Mia Lahlou
  • Entre chiens et loups / At Nightfall
    Translated by Tyler McMullen
  • L’amour dure trois ans / Love Lasts Three Years
    Translated by Elizabeth Palustra
  • Elegia
    Translated by Francesca Ricciardelli
  • I Kaplít ad Nadàl
    Translated by Giacomo Sproccati
  • Paisa’ / Paisan
    Translated by Joanna Tatro
  • Gerusalemme liberata
    Translated by Jaclyn Taylor

Front cover of volume 2 of Translation Becomes Eclectic

PDF Version