As I listen more to French singers performing songs they’ve translated from English, I’m becoming fascinated by the inherent complexities of that process. Even in a proper translation, a song’s rhyme and poetic qualities may suffer.
In a poor translation, a song’s meaning can be completely lost. “It’s like searching for the best path through the forest which must satisfy several conflicting criteria,” says Russian translator Stanislov Korotyginit, “It must be the shortest path, the nicest and the safest. And you have to meet the wolf on the way.”
A show at the Pompidou Center in Paris, “Beat Generation: New York, San Francisco, Paris,” is the first major retrospective on the Beats since the 1990s.