He starts by typing very quickly, without thinking too much. Says that “when we read, the eyes slide, [while] when we translate, the eyes dive.” The one who confides like this is André Markowicz, latest guest of Richard Gaitet and his podcast “Bookmakers”.

In the first episode, it’s about childhood – and therefore a lot about his mother, his grandmother and his great-aunt. On his meeting with the Russian linguist and dissident Efim Etkind, who invited the teenager to join his circle of translators: “Translation is a passion, a reason to live,” says André Markowicz. The translator’s primary gesture is that of sharing. He loves and he has the means to make others love him. Then come the technical questions, the impossible, the horrors. »

He will address technical questions at the invitation of Richard Gaitet, and also on what is one of the masterpieces of literature: Eugene Onegin (1833), by Alexander Pushkin, of which André Markowicz is attached to reproducing the sound. For the rest, in a translation, “everything must be there,” he adds, “but what does “everything” mean? Translation is the art of loss. Hence this question: what can you never lose? »

Dive into the heart of the works

In episode 2, there will be a lot of talk about Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whom André Markowicz began to translate after his meeting, in 1990, with Hubert Nyssen, the founder of Actes Sud. From Dostoyevsky and in particular from the three main motifs (weight, stench and walking) which constitute and structure Crime and Punishment – ​​and it is fascinating, as it is every time he talks about cooking, that is to say that he will make the verses heard and immerse us in the heart of the works.

In the third and final episode, Richard Gaitet invites André Markowicz to talk about the four collections of poems and the autobiographical story in verse and without a point (L’Appartement, Inculte, 2018) that he wrote. And also the diary he has kept for ten years on Facebook, and which constitutes the raw material for the thick volumes of his Partages series, published by Mesures, an independent publishing house that he created with Françoise Morvan, the indispensable companion with whom he notably translated the theater of Anton Chekhov and that of Nikolaï Gogol.

Let us underline then that the one who tries not to have certainties, preferring to punctuate his sentences with “I have the impression” or even “if I understand correctly”, participates in the staging of his translations, often reworking the text Plateau-proof. Let us add in fine that these three episodes give ample opportunity to hear the texts (in the original version and in French). That there is also – and this is fortunate – above all a question of poetry, and of silence too.