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Dal-ktieb hu t-tletin traduzzjoni mill-Kulluna Traduzzjonijiet Faraxa. Xogħol tal-awtriċi Serbjana Ana Vučković, 'Bis-saħħa ta' din it-traduzzjoni, issa għandna bil-Malti għall-ewwel darba ktieb sħiħ li fih awtur jesprimi t-thewdin tiegħu bit-teknika tan-nixxiegħa tal-ħsieb (stream of conciousness technique).

Hawnhekk, fil-każ ta' dan il-ktieb partikulari, l-awtriċi thewden fuq l-għajbien ta' missierha fuq l-isfond tal-waqgħa tal-eks Jugoslavja.

Agħtini l-Yugoslavja fejn kien hemm ix-xogħol kif ukoll id-divertiment, u fejn stajna nagħmlu kwalunkwe ħaġa, ara biss li ma tħallihiex tixbaħ il-ħajja. (Ana Vučković)

"Jugoslav hu l-ewwel u qabel kollox poema eliġijaka li tittratta ż-żmien li l-protagonista qattgħet ma' missierha, b'enfasi speċjali fuq iż-żmien li fih ġiet assassinata l-Jugoslavja ... deskritt b'mod straordinarjament raffinat li mhux ġej minn studju post-factum tal-antenati, imma pjuttost mill-memorji tal-awtriċi. U jweġġgħu ħafna, ukoll. Għaldaqstant, immexxija mid-don u t-talent lingwistiku tagħha stess, il-protagonista telliefa t'Ana Vuckovic jirnexxilha tisforza u tibqa' għaddejja mill-epoka li spiċċat u ma titreġġax lura, tagħmel mal-imgħoddi, sa ma madankollu jirnexxilha ssib il-mezz kif toħroġ minnu."

Kwotazzjoni mill-istudju tal-kritiku Srđan Srdić / Vladimir Arsenic, miġjub għall-Malti wkoll fl-aħħar tal-ktieb Jugoslav.


This book is the thirtieth translation in the Faraxa Translation Series. It is the work of Serbian author Ana Vučković. 'Through this translation, we now have for the very first time a complete Maltese book in which the author expresses their innermost thoughts through the stream of consciousness technique.'

Here, in the case of this book in particular, the author mulls over the disappearance of her father in the wake of ex-Yugoslavia's downfall.

Give me Yugoslavia in which there was work as well as entertainment, and where we could do whatever, don't you dare let it resemble life. (Ana Vučković)

"Jugoslav is first and foremost an elegaic poem that details the time the protagonist spent with her father, with a special emphasis on the time during which Yugoslavia was assassinated ... described in an extraordinarily refined way that is not gleaned from post-factum studies of ancestors, but from the author's memories. And they hurt a lot, as well. Nevertheless, driven by her own linguistic talent, Ana Vučković - the protagonist who loses - manages to keep going through the epoch that had ended and was never coming back, settled in the past, until she finds a way out of it."

A quote from the study of critic Srđan Srdić / Vladimir Arsenic, also translated into Maltese at the end of the book, Jugoslav.

"Ana Vučković (1984- ), a graduate in dramaturgy from the University of Belgrade, is a Serbian author and screenwriter. She published a collection of stories and some novels; one of her novels Yugoslav (2019), written in the first person, was a finalist for the Award for Best Novel of the Year (which is a prestigious Serbian literary award that is given annually for an outstanding newly published novel in Serbian). This novel Yugoslav was translated from Serbian into English by the Serbian Nataša Srdić (1984- ) who is also a graduate from the University of Belgrade. She graduated in English language and literature, and eventually became a literary translator. In fact, she has translated many books from Serbian into English and vice versa.

Now the novel has been translated from English into Maltese by Toni (Anthony) Aquilina (1954- ) who is a professor of French and a foremost literary translator. 

The title Yugoslav alludes to the personal aspect of a lifelong Yugoslav and to a common citizen of Yugoslavia. And the novel’s context is set in Yugoslavian culture as the narrator unfolds stored events in her memory to reveal the disappearance of an era, while delineating the rise of a man and his later fall, and the formerly common life of a family (which form the basis of the novel). Generally speaking, the work tends to be wistfully mournful as it deals with the loss of a loving relative and is very close to an elegy in prose. 

Following the death of her father (who remained a Yugoslav throughout his life), the protagonist regenerates her relationship with him, generally depicting moments of her childhood as happy experiences with him and her family. These episodes are juxtaposed with social everyday culture as Yugoslavia (in Srdić’s words) was being assassinated (p.111). The narration shifts from the private and intimate moments to the social and common events which lead the narrator to reflect on existential considerations of human life in past Yugoslav everyday culture. So it treats a mixture of themes, like: the joy of being with the family at home, sociability, meeting the father in the city, professional and artistic ambitions, friendship, the desire to travel, love, and sexuality. 

Aquilina’s Maltese version is a translation of a translation. 

We have to look at translation in the wide context of human communication. And we find the monolingual communicator to be different from the bilingual translator. The monolingual communicator encodes messages in the language used by the receivers of the text; for instance, a Maltese writer writes in Maltese for the Maltese. The translator, on the other hand, decodes messages communicated in one language (L1) and re-encodes them in another (L2): he is a sort of bilingual mediating agent. And in a translation of a translation there is a different re-encoding process. The new translator takes the messages which have already been re-encoded in L2 to produce another re-encoding in a third language (L3). In simple terms, in translation we have the process L1→L2, and in a translation of a translation we have the process L1→L2→L3. So in a translation of a translation we have an interpretation of an interpretation because every translation is an interpretation.

Aquilina’s choice of words in his version (e.g. banju instead of xawer, kakka instead of ħmieġ, qaħbeċ instead of imniefaħ, qlejzietha instead of ix-xorz tagħha, żejżietek instead of sidrek, żibdi instead of tal-butir, jitferċħu instead of b’saqajhom imfettħin) is part of his interpretation. But he maintains the essential feature of the original novel and in Maltese he presents a temporal emptiness in the narrator after her father’s death. And despite this vacuum we see her coming to terms with his departure.

The length of the novel’s chapters is significant because it varies from being extremely short (as the chapters on Mewt, p.5, and Kafè, p.40) to being many pages long (as Mirjana, p.50-57, and Il-Platt, p.58-70). Furthermore, the chapters are presented in just one paragraph – so a 12-page chapter consists of only one long paragraph. Such a delivery helps us to imagine the mental processes of the narrator. The content of each chapter is kept within the confines of a single paragraph to imply that there are no boundaries between the stream of ideas treated in a particular chapter. And the unbroken flow of the narrator’s thoughts (which mingle dream and reality) helps us to arrive quickly at the intended experience and to give us the impression that the mind’s workings have not been censored. Moments of heartache are often interspersed with some humour or irony. And on a general level, that flow touches upon the universal in human nature. 

In Aquilina’s interlingual translation we can see the energy of our language as an element in the cultural struggle of our times. His work contains the expressive qualities of Maltese as he seeks to energise his prose by clarity, explicitness, and rhythm together with sense. In itself this process is rather creative. His approach is to capture the energy of each chapter and to seek to escape from the rigid straitjacket of tradition especially through a mixture of informality and archaicising."

A review from Charles Briffa, Professor of Maltese and Translation at the University of Malta.

Ana Vučković
Translated by:
Toni Aquilina
Illustrated by:
Also available as an ebook

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