Winner Announced: White Rose Project Translation Competition

Dr Alex Lloyd, Director of the White Rose Project, reports on this year’s national competition for university students in partnership with the Oxford German Network.

This year’s inaugural competition invited university students to translate into English the draft leaflet written by Christoph Probst in January 1943. Had the leaflet been completed and printed, it would have been the seventh one produced by the White Rose resistance group. Competition entrants were also asked to write a commentary on the text, in English or German, referring both to the leaflet itself (its style and historical references) and their approach to translating it.

The winner of the 2020 White Rose Translation Competition is Jack Graveney (University of Cambridge).

I was delighted when Dr Charlotte Ryland agreed to judge the entries to this new competition. Charlotte is — among many other things — Director of the Stephen Spender Trust and the Translation Exchange at the University of Oxford. She has published and edited several translations including most recently Brecht’s unfinished play The Real Life of Jacob Trotalong (Das wirkliche Leben des Jakob Gehherda). Find out more about Charlotte’s important and exciting work on her website. On judging this year’s White Rose Project Translation Competition, Charlotte comments:

All entrants to the competition coped admirably with a text that is full of traps for the translator, while rising to the challenge of reproducing 1940s rhetoric. The winning translation stood out for its inventive phrasing (the officers ‘bailed out’, lives were ‘at stake’) and its readiness to stretch and remould the original syntax in order to fit the new idiom. The accompanying commentary was as confident as the translation, full of intelligent and creative reflection on text and intertext, with a keen sense of the translator’s responsibility.

Read Jack’s prize-winning translation and commentary here. The original German leaflet is available to read here.