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Translating Poe's "The Raven"
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With Writing Show listener Ricardo from Amigo Audio


"Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

From "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe

It is said that the only way to experience an author's true meaning is to read his or her work in the original language. But for most of us, that's impossible most of the time, so we read translations.

But what are we getting when we do that? Is it ever possible to render an author's words and meaning exactly?

This week we present a special show recorded by Writing Show listener Ricardo from Amigo Audio. In this fascinating ride, Ricardo takes us through the process of translating Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" from English to Spanish and shows us that translation isn't just a matter of language, but of history, mythology, and other disciplines as well.

Is there a darker, more brooding, more psychologically terrifying poem than "The Raven?" This poem draws us into a world of madness, grief, and terror, which Poe made his literary specialties.  First published in 1845, "The Raven" brought Poe overnight success, but his life would not go on much longer. In the poem the narrator-protagonist begins to realize he is going crazy, losing his grip on reality, hallucinating, and sinking into an abyss of grief. He is obsessed and unable to overcome the loss of his beloved deceased "Lenore." Going through this dark tormented period he receives a surprise visit on a bleak December midnight from a black bird that comes knocking on his door.

The translators at are headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica.   Their translation of "The Raven" has been converted into a free 8-page bilingual eBook showing English and Spanish in a side-by side format, which you can download at the ebook section of their site, You can also download the poem in both languages as a free MP3 (in a ZIP file) at the AudioBook section.

Translating the poem was a joint project between Ricardo and colleague Carlos Amaya.

Interviewee/Host: Ricardo from Amigo Audio
Date: January 16, 2008
Running time: 48:05
File size: 23 megabytes
Rating: G
The Amigo Audio Web site: Amigo Audio