Translators in an Italian dungeon

The Telegraph has an article on some of the more interesting working conditions I’ve heard of in the translation business: “Dan Brown’s Inferno: the hellish conditions endured by those translating author’s new blockbuster.” The guy’s latest “mysterious religious/artistic stuff happens but brave American academic is up to the task” novel is going to be released simultaneously later this month in multiple languages. To make this happen, the publisher(s?) brought all the translators to Milan and stuck them in an “underground bunker” to get the job done without sharing any details on it with the outside world.

When they arrived in February 2012, they were put into ‘lockdown’, as one official put it. Their mobile phones were confiscated and they were placed under strict instructions to reveal nothing of the plot of the book.

To prevent leaks to the outside world, the translators had limited access to computers, were banned from taking any notebooks or papers out of the bunker and had to hand in the manuscripts they were working on each evening.

Minibuses transported them to and from the hotels they were staying in.

They were accompanied by security guards and ate in a staff canteen in the headquarters of Mondadori, the Italian publishing giant that is owned by Silvio Berlusconi.

I can’t imagine doing a lot of work in a dark pit without access to the internet, but maybe a novel like this can be done that way. (Although I’d guess they’d need to have various paper reference materials on hand to confirm details from Dante’s work and whatnot). Maybe there was one connected terminal and a thuggish guard looking over their shoulders to make sure they didn’t write IT WAS THE ILLUMINATI ALL ALONG into a Gmail window.

Translators' view
Translators’ view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>