Literary Translation Challenge

You may well have missed my literary translation debut! Last week I am kind of went down a rabbit hole while thinking about Grammarly. What I did was take a text and then let Grammarly loose on it and agreed to everything. Once I completed one pass, I went back and did it again, and kept revising the text until all that was left were obviously wrong suggestions and when there were two perfectly viable options and selecting one made Grammarly suggest the other, and I could never get out of the loop. When they happened I picked the one that I thought was best.

The two images above show how, on the first pass, Grammarly didn’t like the word ‘seek’, and then on the second pass, it was ‘come, let us…’ that it picked up on. I imagine when I do a third pass it will be ‘then we shall’ that will be picked up on.

The goal was to see how the text, written in the 19th Century, turned out when subjected by Grammarly set to US English. These are my default Grammarly settings.

The first full text I attacked was Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.

Once I Grammarly had done its thing, I used the Read Aloud option in Word and listened to the book as an audio book. I was thinking that if the story should still be engaging and make sense. I am more likely to hear sentences that jar or language that simply didn’t fit the setting and genre.

The entire process stripped 75 pages from the length of the book, which you can probably imagine was not difficult. In just the two examples above, we lose 4 words from the sentence. Repeat that in every sentence (and it was often more than four words that were edited out), and the text soon starts to shrink noticeably.

Having worked my way through the entire book it made sense, to me anyway, to do the layout and list it for sale. It is now on Amazon and DriveThruFiction as a print, Kindle [amazon], PDF, and ePub [DTF]. So far, I have sold exactly zero copies, which is no great surprise. My main objective was not to make money from it, but I am not one to turn it down. You will never make a single cent from things you don’t put on sale.

I had intended to do five or six classic horror tales. Dracula next, and then maybe some Edgar Allen Poe, Maybe Phantom of the Opera. Five or six books is then enough to create bundles or virtual box sets, possibly even physical box sets. I have never looked into how to do that, but I am sure someone somewhere has the ability to combine print on demand and presentation boxes. That may be an adventure for another day.

Anyway, those were my plans until I got an email from a Comparative Literature undergrad called John. John pointed out an interesting text. H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West – Reanimator was originally several short stories, and as a result, there is a lot of repetition. Lovecraft is not the easiest to read at the best of times, but being public domain, I could set Grammarly loose on it, and then, when I am in the audiobook stage of checking through, spot those repetitive sections and edit them out. The goal being to make a version of Reanimator that read more like a coherent whole than as a collection of shorts bolted together.

That sounds like a challenge, and I accept. It also fits in with my horror box set idea.

What could possibly go wrong?

I am sure I will find out.

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