Moser

Would you like to hear more about Benjamin Moser’s lecture? Then please keep reading.

Benjamin Moser is born on September 14th 1976 in Houston, Texas. Moser started studying Chinese but he found it too serious and lacked patience. Therefore he changed to study Brazilian Studies.
Benjamin Moser had two main topics at the lecture: The life of the famous Brazilian author Clarice Lispector and the art of translating.
About Lispector’s life, Moser told that she was born in Ukraine in 1920, in a village which was known as the worst place to be a Jew outside the Nazi occupied areas. In Ukraine Lispector’s mom got raped, got syphilis and later she died, while Lispector was still a child. Her family moved to north-east Brazil when Lispector was around two years old in 1922. In her adult life, Lispector married an ambassador and lived “the American dream”. She was tall, blond, glamorous and spoke with a French accent, so people did not suspect that she had been poor. Lispector published ”Near to the Wild Heart” (Perto do Coração Selvagem), which was her first novel in 1943.  Lispector’s worse fear was to be poor again and all her life she lived off her husband’s money and the money she later inherited from him, because she did not earn anything from her books. People couldn’t accept that she was Jewish because the general perception was that it was impossible to be both Jewish and Brazilian. Clarice Lispector died the day before turning 57, in December 1977. 

Benjamin Moser’s fascination for Clarice Lispector started when he read “The hour of the star” (A hora da estrela).  Moser’s biography is the first English biography about Lispector. For a long time he was in doubt if he should translate one of her books or write a biography about her, but he ended up writing the biography. The most difficult thing for him concerning writing the biography was that everybody had their own view on Lispector and that, in Brazil, one can get sued for writing about a dead person. The common thought about Lispector's books is that they are alluring and addictive. They are also complicated and even Brazilians have troubles understanding her literature. But Moser thinks the biggest problem in the translation from Portuguese is that there are simply not enough translators and they are disorganized. 
According to him, only around five people in the world can translate Lispector decently. Moser thinks the problem is that the translators do not work together about the authors and that the publishers do not give the translators enough feedback. Therefore Moser invited five different translators, including an American and an Australian, to work together and translate two of Lispector’s books; some liked the experience while others preferred to work independently.

Moser tries to make more people interested in translating because he thinks that the world has a need for translators. Finally, he hopes that Brazil will invest more in getting their authors translated.

Written bNicolai Kammersgaard

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