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Harry Potter in Yiddish: Translating Across Languages and Cultures

March 4, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Zoom Online


Arun Viswanath in conversation with Robert Alter (UC Berkeley).

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first book in the most-translated series of all time recently appeared in a new language: Yiddish (Heri Poter un der Filosofisher Shteyn). In this talk, Arun Viswanath, the translator, a native Yiddish speaker, will engage with Prof. Robert Alter in a conversation on the unique challenges of transposing Harry Potter’s characters and cultural contexts into the Ashkenazi Jewish tongue with an eye towards the rich history of Jewish translation as well as the role of Yiddish in modern Jewish culture.

The program will begin with an excerpt from the book in Yiddish and English, to give viewers a sense of how it sounds in translation and will proceed with a conversation in English.

Arun Schaechter Viswanath grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey in a Yiddish-and Tamil-speaking home. Harry Potter un der Filosofisher Shteyn is his first foray into literary translation. He lives with his wife and newborn daughter in New York, where he works in analytics at a tech company.

Robert Alter, an emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, at UC Berkeley has done a complete translation of the Hebrew Bible.

The book is available at harrypotter.olniansky.com , and a recording of the first chapter is available on youtube.com/watch?v=6_fB0ZsjpgE.


March 4, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm