View From Bavaria

2010-2011 Issue 1

McGill CCE Instructor Working on his Fourth Novel

Éric Dupont , a lecturer in the Translation Studies unit since 2003 and a novelist , was selected by the Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois to participate in the first writer-in-residence program established between Quebec and the German state of Bavaria . He will resume teaching at McGill CCE in January 2011.

Where are you staying and how’s your writing coming along ?

The historic Villa Waldberta is located near Munich and welcomes artists and writers from around the world. This fall we’re an eclectic bunch: a German historian, an Italian multimedia artist, a Turkish painter and another writer. I am working on my fourth novel, which I hope will be published next year.

Is your novel set in Germany?

A good part is set in Königsberg during the Second World War and in Berlin in 1994. The action takes place
during the last days of East Prussia in January 1945. A young Berlin woman, who’s passionate about singing and classical music, serves as a nurse in the Königsberg Hospital. In the final days of the war she witnesses the Soviet troops brutally overrunning the city. Another part takes place in Canada.

As a novelist, what creative approaches to translation do you encourage in your students?

I explain that every text has its own voice, its particular accent, and that they need to recognize these
characteristics and reproduce them in the target text if an equivalent exists. In Translation II, I ask my students to describe the author of the source text. Who is that person? What music does he/she like? Which words will he/she never say? Did he/she go to college? How can we get a clear picture of this person using
only the text we have in front of us? Once we answer questions like these, I tell students that translating, much like acting, is about being someone else. But like most actors, you never really are someone else; you remain yourself. In the end, they have to express the original text in French as if they were the author they described.

What do you miss most about Montreal?

So many things! The sound of the wind in the leaves on the Plateau. The excitement of conversations
at Beijing, a Chinese restaurant on De La Gauchetière. Honking geese flying south on an autumn day. Hearing the fireworks from a distance, and my sister’s laughter. I miss teaching at CCE too. I thought I wouldn’t because the classes are a lot of work, but I do miss them.

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