May 12, 2015

Unknown Soldiers

There's been a new translation of the Finnish classic The Unknown Soldier by Väino Linna. It hasn't been very well received:

The translator, Liesl Yamaguchi, made some strange choices with the translation, having the soldiers speak American slang, for example. Yes, Linna has the soldiers speak in different Finnish dialects, which is an important part of the book and his character building, but this just feels wrong.

You have to understand, this novel reflects the experience of a generation. Almost every Finnish kid reads this at school. It's become something of a male bonding thing, this book. We Finns are pretty stoic; like Vulcans, but grumpier. You want to see a Finnish man get emotional? This book will do it. Maybe you have to be Finnish to get this book? I don't know.

Maybe some things just don't translate.

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