Interview with Joxe Austin Arrieta
Lurdes Auzmendi


The writer and translator from San Sebastian, Joxe Austin Arrieta, has been awarded this year's Price for Basque Translation by the Basque Government for his translation of the book "The Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. On the occasion of this award, we wished to talk to him about this work and the subject of translation in general.

Concerning the award-winning translation, Arrieta comments that he decided to translate this novel due to its value as literature and also because, unconsciously, it established a parallelism between the narration and the ethnical-social- political isolation of the Basque Country, but also because of his desire to translate a novel which is stylistically and syntactically different from the translations of literature which were made before then. The work embarked upon was not easy due, among other reasons, to the high lexical wealth of its contents and to the difficulties encountered, inevitably, by Basque translators, in view of the non-existence, at least at this time, of English-Basque dictionaries.

Nevertheless, Arrieta states that the experience has been enriching, even from his point of view as a writer, in view of the fact that the translation of literature represents a necessary, complementary activity to the work of creation, a kind of training based on high discipline.

Regarding translations which are generally made into the Basque language, Arrieta believes that there are a dozen excellent translators of literature in our country and these are the people, precisely, who publish on a regular basis. The situation of this type of literary work in the Basque Country is the reason, perhaps, or the diversity of criteria which exists between translators themselves, who might benefit from a greater level of cohesion, as has been demonstrated in the case of administrative translation. Arrieta believes that, logically, there is a higher dispersion or plurality of criteria in the translation of literary texts, although he considers that it would always be interesting to make an effort to bring together the linguistic model used by different professionals.

Finally, Joxe Austin Arrieta comments that he alternates his activities between writing and translating and that after translating Golding he is planning to dedicate himself to the work of literary creation.