Slovenian Translator Janko Moder

16. 3. 2013

Janko ModerJanko Moder (8 May 1914, Dol pri Ljubljani – 20 October 2006, Ljubljana), one of the most renowned Slovenian translators, initially decided to study electrical engineering in Ljubljana, but soon switched to Slavic Studies and began translating articles for various newspapers to support himself financially during his studies. After graduating in 1939, he first worked as a high school teacher. He then accepted the job of editor at the St. Hermagoras Society Press (Mohorjeva družba) and in 1944 he also took up the position of dramaturge at the National Theater (Državno gledališče).

After WWII he pursued a career as freelance translator and translated literary texts from around twenty languages, including:

  • English (Shakespeare, Shaw, Miller, Williams, O’Neill, Lawrence, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Hemingway, etc.);
  • German (Goethe, Mann, Nietzsche, Brecht, Grass, Remarque, etc.);
  • Russian (Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Gorky, Pasternak, etc.);
  • French (Molière, Diderot, Flaubert, Racine, etc.);
  • Spanish (García Lorca, Asturias, Lope de Vega, etc.).

Moder was one of the founders of the Slovenian Association of Literary Translators (DSKP), served as its secretary for many years and was later also its president. Between 1970 and 1976 he lectured at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film, and Television (AGRFT) in Ljubljana. Although he was a prolific writer of fiction, the majority of his literary output remained unpublished for a long time; some of his works were published towards the end of his life. However, it is above all his work as a literary translator that earned him the numerous awards he received (Gantar 1984: 309–310).

In an interview, Moder stated that he greatly enjoyed translating because it enabled him “not only to help broaden readers’ horizons, but also to ensure an even greater flexibility of the [Slovenian] language” (Vurnik 1998: 175). Furthermore, he viewed translation to be of great importance for the development of the language and of the nation as a whole; he was certain that “every language inevitably needs translation because it represents contact with different, broader worlds” (Vurnik 1998: 177). The hundreds of literary works that Janko Moder translated enriched Slovenian intercultural contacts and ensured him a place in Slovenian literary history.

 by Janko Trupej

Sources:
Gantar, Kajetan, 1984: Ob sedemdesetletnici Janka Modra. Jezik in slovstvo 29(8): 309–310; Vurnik, France, 1998: Intervju: Janko Moder. Sodobnost 46(3–4): 163180.

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