If you think writers from all around the world have been descending upon Key West for 31 years to escape cruddy winter weather while knocking back a rum runner or two and discussing their work, you probably won’t get an argument from them.
The work of a biographer might seem straightforward enough. Although the general public might consider the genre a sub-category of nonfiction writing, the best works transcend that title, and stand apart as a class of their own. Biographies contain facts and historical documentation about the life of particular subject, and in this way meet the criteria for nonfiction. In a talk at the Key West Literary Seminar on Saturday, however, acclaimed biographer Jay Parini declared, “All biography is a work of fiction. It's an illusion of a life that may relate to reality.”
Those of us who speak more than one language are aware of the power and issues related to translation. For many of us it is a constant internal dialog, full of traps and the dangers of double entendres. The anxiety that the process brings about is the very reason why skillful translators are so valued. In it's essence, the act of translating is a multi thronged process. There is the literal, and then there is the intangible, the true root that translation attempts to illuminate. In the end the translation inevitably fails to some degree to reach this ultimate goal.