“I have always looked at the text as a being, as an entity. One has created it and, yes, I’m reading it and interpreting the meaning, but it’s still there with its own logic and inner system.” So says a 31-year old Serbian translator Rados Kosovic.
According to him, when translating, one feels every scene as slow motion and has to think about each and every word. “Translating is the most intimate encounter with literary work,” he added. Therefore, a translator has to take the text into consideration, what it says, what its structure is like. First reader of the text is its creator, the author.
This is the approach Kosovic of when translating 14 books from Norwegian to Serbian, with two more underway. This approach also brought him two prestigious awards for translation: “The Milos N. Djuric” Prize for translation of the year and “Aleksandar Spasic” Award for best translation in the field of humanities.
His love for language dates back to his high school days when he enrolled into the Philology gymnasium to study classical languages. At the time, he had no special interest in Norwegian language and literature. He says it was the interest for language as such and the absurd that brought him to the Scandinavian Department at the Belgrade University’s Faculty of Philology to study Norwegian language and literature. “The Icelandic would have been even more absurd to study at the moment if it had been an option,” Kosovic adds.
“This has to do with the fact that I was growing up in the 1990s with such a regime, war, poverty, and people telling me not to study and that I have to work unless I want to die of poverty. It made no sense to plan anything.” And so he didn’t plan, but enjoyed his studies led by renowned late professor Ljubisa Rajic. Also, this is where he learned the basics of translating.
Upon completion of his BA studies in Belgrade, Kosovic got a scholarship from the Norwegian government to complete his graduate studies in Kristiansand, Norway. He still has fond memories of this part of his life spent in Norway. “I remember Norway for its great nature, but also great conditions to work and study. That is basically what I’ve been doing — hiking the mountains and writing,” says he.
Norway has taught him what silence and nature are. “Nature is very present in Norway, as great part of their life. You can see that in their literature as well that silence as motive is processed in a special way.”
Upon his return to Serbia, Kosovic embarks on translating, enjoying and respecting every written word. After 14 translated books, he got an acknowledgement from The Association of Literary Translators that he had been doing great job. “Both prizes are very dear to me as some kind of personal accomplishment. I devoted my life to something and it turned out that I am recognised to be good at it,” Kosovic concluded.