In welcoming you to issue no. 5 of our magazine, I will try and illustrate the reasons that led to Inkroci being a bilingual magazine, and will take the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of what we do. Like all matters of a certain interest, this complex theme can probably be most usefully dealt with from different perspectives and insights.
One consideration that immediately comes to mind concerns the close link that exists between language and culture. According to a definition given by UNESCO (1970), culture is a process of communication between men. Being human is to exist in relation to others. Since English has become an international language, we believe that using it may give us the chance to reach a larger number of readers, and so contribute to greater cultural intensity and completeness.
Aiming at this goal, shouldn’t we then publish our magazine only in English?
We can answer in the words of Nelson Mandela: «If you speak a language a person can understand, that goes to his head, but if you speak his mother tongue, that goes to his heart». Inkroci operates in the field of literature, and it is its ambition to build dialogue, to share the representation of experiences, to expand intersubjectivity and to experiment with words. Given the bidirectional relationship between thought and language, we are convinced that the promotion of writing in the language of our own thoughts and emotions sustains the quality and meaningfulness of our texts.
Inkroci is not insensitive to the challenges of internationalization, which is encouraged in many areas of education and research, but we prefer to interpret this concept as multilingualism and cultural diversity, and we focus on it in the space in Inkroci entitled Literatures from the world, where pieces in other languages can also be found.
As a consequence, this choice implies that we commit ourselves to translating our texts from English or into English. In my opinion, quality writing is synonymous with synthesis and conciseness; therefore I personally find great satisfaction when I approach the English language. To translate literature, you must be passionate about it; the word passion comes from the Latin patire and conveys the idea of suffering. I remember that I found studying English at elementary school extremely demanding. Perhaps my difficulty in understanding has since turned into its opposite: the desire to clarify and make it accessible, first and foremost to myself and then to others. This then turned into the love for translation, which is basically a love for words, that I share with the whole group at Inkroci.
Translation is a form of knowledge, a communicative act and the place of a meeting where the distances in space and time dissolve, where we discover other people and our own self-consciousness, tracing the threads of our identity. According to Italo Calvino, «translating a book is the best way to read it».
Of course, a language is not made just of words alone; and the act of translating, as Umberto Eco argues, is not only the transposition from one culture to another, but is also the adaptation of existing contents to contexts which have changed or which never existed. This is a space of challenge, beauty and freedom, and a necessarily imperfect act (http://cartaecalamaio.com/2012/07/09/lannosa-questione-del-tradurre-e-tradire/). In this space, there is gratification in the chisel work, the attention to detail, to commas and nuances, in the knowledge that form and substance are two poles which need to be kept in perfect balance.
Milan Kundera, who always obsessively revised and corrected the translations of his books, once wrote: «People say that a translation is like a woman: she is either faithful or beautiful. It is the most stupid adage I know. In fact, a translation is beautiful if it is faithful».
In conclusion, I would like to quote from an interview (in our no. 2 issue) where Erri De Luca describes how the exercise of precision, inspired by a sense of admiration for the other language, allows you to root yourself in the vocabulary of your own language: «When somebody asks me how to become a writer, I simply answer: first become a translator».
Translation edited by Roma O’Flaherty