During the four hours they spent alone three times a week, Hans and Sophie alternated between books and bed, bed and books, exploring one another in words and reading one another’s bodies. Thus, inadvertently, they developed a shared language, rewriting what they read, translating one another mutually. The more they worked together, the more similarities they discovered between love and translation, understanding a person and translating a text, retelling a poem in a different language and putting into words what the other was feeling. Both exercises were as happy as they were incomplete – doubts always remained, words that needed changing, missed nuances. They were both aware of the impossibility of achieving transparency as lovers and as translators. Cultural, political, biographical and sexual differences acted as a filter. The more they tried to counter them, the greater the dangers, obstacles, misunderstandings. And yet at the same time the bridges between the languages, between them, became broader and broader.
Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman is available now from Pushkin Press.
You can also read a short story by Andrés Neuman, ‘The Slight Difference Between Leaving and Running Away’, here.
Photograph courtesy of Andrés Neuman