Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies
By Steve Komarnyckyj, May 14 2015 05:11AM
Okay. You are translating a family archive. You know the kind of thing. Letters yellowed with age, spidery handwriting. Envelopes post marked by countries that no longer exist. A woman licking an air mail envelope with Lenin's head embossed in blood red ink. A train jolting across the tundra with sacks of letters. Marussia has cancer. Katya has had another baby. The Red Cross has found Petro, he's in Poland. Suddenly you find pages with a different handwriting. Vanya had an affair, perhaps, and the pages tell of stolen kisses, of partings in railway stations. What do you do? Do you shatter a grandchild's or a daughter's image of someone they love? When someone needs to know more are there times when you should make sure they know less? This is an abstract question but echoes some issues I have faced. I just translate, warn about the content, and take the money. But on the few occasions this has happened I wonder ... What do you think?