80 years old | Günter Grass is Oili Suominen’s “business card” – and there was a time when the translator got to ask the master himself what he really meant in the most intricate places.

Translated literature is essential if Finland wants to be a country of education, says Oili Suominen, who has translated 107 works.

Sano Suominen when you want good.

Not always Oili Suominen translations available, but often yes, especially from Germany but also from Sweden. He has translated a total of 107 books into Finnish, and at least one more will be published next autumn.

The very first was Johannes Mario Simmelin suspense novel Hot cold wall 1968. The transition to “literature in capital k,” as Suominen himself describes, took place in the 11th Finnish Siegfriedin Lenzin novel German class in 1973.

“Lenz is somehow a clear writer,” says Suominen, who has since translated many other works by the so-called homeland writer, the handler of the burden of Nazism. “He always has a story, and the stories are easy to read. It is more difficult to perceive the works of many others as a whole. ”

As is often the case, for example Günter Grassin extensive production of plush opuses. Suominen is especially known as Grass’s translator.

“Yeah, Grass is my business card,” the day hero says. “It’s good to be able to translate a lot of the same author, because the author should always sound like himself and not his translator.”

Of the year The winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize started organizing translator seminars early on, in which Suominen also participated diligently and with great pleasure.

“The tradition of seminars began when a book was written by a high authority in the German language at the Swedish Academy. Sheet metal drum about the mistakes contained in the Swedish, and according to Grass, that work was thicker than his novel, ”Suominen recalls. “I haven’t seen that book and I don’t know if it’s really thicker than 700 pages Sheet metal drum. But in any case, it was an incentive for Grass to start holding seminars. ”

The master writer obliged his various rural publishers to pay for the translators’ travel, accommodation and food. Otherwise, publishing rights would not be lost.

“It was best to ask Grass himself what he really meant in some awkward places,” Suominen says. “It was nice to get to know people all over Europe.”

Grimm’s words the seminar was no longer held. Grass reported that he was already too old, and he soon died.

“Apart from my department, only a couple of other translations of that book have been made,” Suominen says – for a reason – pride in his voice.

Ratio She started in Germany at the Pori Girls’ High School. There, Swedish began in the first, German in the second, and English in the fourth.

“We had a terribly good German teacher,” Suominen says. “Nothing pleasant but very irritating warfare man who walked with a cane and seemed grumpy.”

“When some of us then went to the University of Turku to read German, we laughed that we already know all this.”

The importance of excellent teaching can hardly be overemphasized. Thus, during his active time in Suominen, Suominen joined the Translators’ Association Kersti Juvan to hold masterclasses for novice translators.

“I don’t remember how many courses we took. But already in the first course, there were a lot of people who became really good translators. ”

Translation literature is essential if Finland wants to be a civilized country. That is Oili Suominen’s strong position on the matter.

“There should be books available from almost all over the world,” he says. “And there have been them, all the way to Africa and Asia.”

“But there are always periods of recession, when we translate almost exclusively from English, which Finns know best. More should be translated from languages ​​they do not know. German is the largest language in Europe, and only a small group of Finns can read it. ”

Especially dear Grassin and Sheet metal drum In addition, Suominen has W. G. Sebaldin (1994–2001) production.

“I admire Sebald perhaps even more than Grassi,” he says. “I never had time to meet Sebald. As far as I know, he was not an open person like Grass, although he taught translation in England. He is a demanding but enchanting writer: once you get into his book, you can no longer get out of it. ”

No more is promised, as Suominen has already given us practically all of Sebald’s prose production.

Something good In Korona’s time, it has been for Suominen.

“People started reading, buying and borrowing books when they had to stay home. So the publishers had a good year and they needed more and more books. ”

And man does not live on mere thrills.

“In Germany Bernhard Schlink is very popular, but for Finns he may be a bit difficult. The publisher had both bought and meant that Suominen would translate, having previously translated Schlink. ”

Oili Suominen

Born in 1941 in Pori, lives in Espoo.

Bachelor of Arts at the University of Turku 1967. Diploma translator.

Translated a total of 107 works from Germany and Sweden.

He is especially known as the translator of the works of Günter Grass, W. G. Sebald, Siegfried Lenz and Hermann Broch.

Received a state award Fourth, most recently Sebald’s novel Austerlitz Finnish translation (2003).

Pro Finlandia Medal 1999, J. A. Hollo Award 1993, Mikael Agricola Award 1981. Verdienstkreuz am Bande der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1999.

State Artist ‘s Pension 2005.

Turns 80 on Wednesday, February 24th.


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