Ireland | 2011
Frank Wynne is a writer and award-winning literary translator. Born in Ireland, he has lived and worked in Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Buenos Aires and Costa Rica. He has translated the works of Michel Houellebecq, Frédéric Beigbeder, Pierre Mérot, and Ahmadou Kourouma. A journalist and broadcaster, he has written for the Sunday Times, the Independent, the Irish Times, Melody Maker, and Time Out. He has won the Scott Moncrieff Prize for translation from French and the Premio Valle Inclán for translation from Spanish as well as writing a work of non-fiction, I Was Vermeer, a biography of the forger Han van Meegeren. In previous incarnations, he has sold graphic novels, worked on Tank Girl and been the second oldest person in AOL UK
It’s difficult to express how thankful I feel to have stayed at Santa Maddalena. When I was invited there in late 2011, I hoped to find a refuge, some peace from what had been a very difficult year; I found much more, I rediscovered an energy and a passion for my work. Superlatives are easy – the setting is incomparable, I was stunned by the princely room where I was to stay, and overawed by Grisha’s studio, its desk a tableland, where I was to work. But the genius loci of Santa Maddalena is not the glorious rooms, the elegant tower, the breathtaking views; it is in the stillness of the place, in the spirit of inquiry, of intellectual openness and passion embodied in the gracious form of Beatrice herself.
Within a day or two I had settled into the pleasurable rituals of taking coffee, chatting to Alex about translation, playing with the dogs, of wonderful meals taken en famille, passionate conversations and the occasional evening cinema club but most surprisingly – to me – I found myself working with renewed drive and passion on a translation that had till then seemed utterly intractable.
Being in the company of books and those who make them, cherish them and truly appreciate is a pleasure and a privilege I will not soon forget. I am indebted to my fellow residents, (Mirza) Waheed and Alice (Albinia), to Alex and Brigida, and most of all to the Beatrice whose generosity of spirit and passion for literature sustain the living, breathing idea that is Santa Maddalena which is indisputable proof that I libri non esauriscono le parole; le parole non esauriscono le idee.