Half-a-million words, 1600 pages, 6 years and 50,000 euros later the impossible has been done. The untranslatable has been translated. Wait- that doesn’t sound like very much money for 6 years of full-time labor!
Without some side translation jobs from the financial sector, 2 stipends and an allowance from Dad, it would have never been possible for Ulrich Blumenbach to translate David Foster Wallace’s masterpiece.
Thirteen years after publication in the USA, Wallace’s original title, “Infinite Jest”, is now also available as “Unendlicher Spass”. The German-speaking audience finally get their fair share of herds of hamsters as well as the best play on the English language since James Joyce – except of course in German.
Whether the translator, Ulrich Blumenbach, was successful in his Germanisation of the complex text will probably not be known for many years. If it took Wallace a lifetime to write the book, and it took Blumenbach 6 years to translate it. How long do you think it will take to read it?
*For more on the writer David Foster Wallace read the touching article published in Rolling Stone magazine shortly after his death: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/23638511/the_lost_years__last_days_of_david_foster_wallace