I think that if you are sticking to the text, essentially, you're not trying to write your own version of it. I mean, of course, it is your own version of it. And every translator would probably have a different version. But I think that that's what keeps the writers from being individual in English. They may be my English, but I don't think that Ferrante sounds like Levi.
I like to think of the individual words, then you put the word in the sentence, then you have to think about what that word means in the sentence, then you have to read the sentence in the paragraph - you're sort of building up like that; that's my philosophy.
Trying to take a feeling from one language, and express it in another is naturally that's my goal. You can't possibly achieve that in a perfect way because there's so many things you have to take into consideration. You know, think about every word, every sentence, every paragraph, and do what you can.
I really had wanted to learn Italian for a long time. I think ever since - or even maybe even before I had read Dante. And I just sort of had this idea that I wanted to read Dante in Italian. And then in my office, we actually had a class - an Italian class.
It's really the story of a young woman, or two women, growing up in Naples in a poor neighborhood. The way that they get out of it - or don't get out of it - that's part of it. But it's also the story of the mid-20th century in Italy so it's really like a social, historical and personal novel. I think that even though I didn't live in Italy in those years, it did cover that same type of generational upbringing that someone like me might've had in America.
I don't have a philosophy. If I had a philosophy, it's that I'm kind of literal minded. For example, I would never translate poetry - it's too hard, there are too many levels. Not that prose doesn't have many levels, but it's more grounded.
I think it's important to be accurate on the level of the word, but it's also important to be accurate at the level of the sentence, at the level of the paragraph. Sometimes you lose sight of that - I remind myself to go back and read.