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Zandra Bezuidenhout: ‘A highpoint of my career as a translator’

In December 2016, Zandra Bezuidenhout, a Dutch–Afrikaans literary translator, stayed at the Translators’ House (Vertalershuis) in Antwerp. Zandra has written an enthusiastic account of her visit: ‘My expectations of the month-long stay were surpassed in every way.’

Photo Zandra Bezuidenhout (c) Engela Duvenage
© Engela Duvenage

‘Not only did the apartment and surroundings look very attractive and comfortable, but I also found it a pleasant and calm space, where I could work undisturbed on my Afrikaans translation of Peter Buwalda’s ‘Bonita Avenue’. I also had the privilege of sharing the house with a very considerate and charming fellow-translator, Daniel Cunin. Although we both did our own thing, there was plenty of opportunity to discuss personal and general translation problems, and also the advantage of exchanging ideas and experiences regarding culture, language and literature from our own regions, with Dutch as a shared language of conversation in the Translators’ House and as the source language of the texts we were translating.

Photo Translators' House Antwerp
Translators' House Antwerp

The organisation and support from Karen Thys both before and during the stay were outstanding, and her warm welcome and assistance were much appreciated. The lunch with Karen and other staff from Flanders Literature was also pleasant, relaxed and inspiring.

Two Dutch-language newspapers a day and well-stocked bookshelves were not only interesting, but a necessary and valuable bonus. The Van Dale dictionaries in my room were particularly handy.

An exceptional opportunity to experience many aspects of Flemish society at first hand and in depth
Zandra Bezuidenhout

My visits to museums such as the Letterenhuis, the Plantin Moretus Museum, MAS and many others provided the necessary diversion and immersion in the wealth of Flemish art, language and history, and as a result my interest in and knowledge of Flemish culture has grown tremendously. The opportunity to experience a service at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal on Christmas day was also unforgettable.

My stay at the Translators’ House was a highpoint of my career as a translator and an exceptional opportunity to experience many aspects of Flemish society at first hand and in depth. I left a copy of ‘Arsenaal van klank’, my translated anthology of poems by Anna Enquist, on the dining table at the Translators’ House, as a modest token of my gratitude.

Mar 9th, 2017