Tomasz Beksiński — a genius enclosed in the human body
Translation has always been about the contact with the foreign. Even though this clash with the unfamiliar may be understood differently among cultures, there is one aspect of translation which never changes. Namely, it is the full understanding of both the language and the culture of the source text and the target text. In order to transfer the original meaning, the translator has to become somebody more than just a person acquainted with two languages. Translation is a field which deals not solely with languages, but also touches upon such human spheres as ethics and cultural belonging. That is why a translator becomes a kind of a mediator between different cultures.
In my paper I will focus on the 20th century Polish translator, Tomasz Beksiński — one of the most prominent figures not only in the history of Polish translation, but also journalism and music. Beksiński, with his complex personality and a wide variety of interests, devoted himself not only to the translation of foreign movies, but also sketches and lyrics to the songs. Everything he focused on, certainly did shape his personality and influenced his professional career.
In the first part I will introduce the figure of Tomasz Beksiński and I will enumerate a few of his translations. The following parts will be devoted to Beksiński’s biography. I will explain how his life experience shaped him, what influenced his interests and how he came to become a translator. In the last part I will provide several examples of Beksiński’s translation strategies, accompanied by a brief commentary.
This is me!
Tomasz Beksiński 26.11.1958 — 24.12.1999
Tomasz Beksiński was born on the 26th of November 1958 in Sanok, a small city in the south-eastern part of Poland. The son of Zdzisław and Zofia Beksińscy was born in a rather rich family. This fact is worth mentioning as it was the money which enabled the future translator to develop his interests and make decisions concerning his future job. Throughout his whole life he worked as a radio presenter, journalist and translator. Due to the deep fascination with music, he found it natural to translate lyrics. As he was particularly fond of the rock music genre, he focused mainly on such bands as: Marillion, Iron Maiden, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Joy Division and The Sisters of Mercy. It was later on, when he found strong interest in movies, particularly the horror ones, eventually led him to start translating scripts to the movies such as Wild at Heart, Silence of the Lambs, Apocalypse Now, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Birdy, Die Hard, Don’t Look Now, Frankenstein, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, The Swarm, Someone’s watching me!, Lethal Weapon, 1941, Pet Semetary, Reservoir dogs (Wikipedia 2017).
Through my father’s soul to my own
Year 1929 is of remarkable significance in the history of Polish art as it is exactly when Zdzisław Beksiński was born. This prominent figure will soon shape the field of art in a new and original manner…
Zdzisław Beksiński, a painter, photographer and sculptor was an artist whose works belong to the Dystopian Surrealism. Beksiński himself called his paintings „Baroque” or „Gothic” (Lekarczyk-Cisek 2015). The images are a representation of a horrifying world which is always covered in deep darkness. The typical theme of his works is death, nature, and decay. Bekisński gives life to deformed bodies, impressive buildings, cemeteries, skeletons, and deserts. Throughout a wide variety of special techniques he manages to evolve an impressive amount of emotions among the onlookers. Due to such colours as black, grey, blue, red, and yellow, which dominate each of his paintings, he frightens, paralyzes, surprises and bewilders. His works easily affect the psyche of the onlookers through their theme and the method of representation.
What is of high importance is that Beksiński created images so vivid and disturbing, that they could easily match Edgar Allan Poe’s works. This distinguished XIXth century American writer, due to his particular literary style, created stories which abound in mystery and terror. There is some evidence that Beksiński did actually read Poe’s works and found them highly delightful (Grzebałkowska 2016:176). Both the father and the son must have been influenced by the figure of the unbelievably skilled American. They usually mention Poe as the one who inspired both their lives and work. Zdzisław Beksiński did actually read Poe’s poems, while Tomasz Beksiński would frequently mention the master of terror in his auditions (Wikipedia 2017). It may be concluded then that the painter was influenced by the dark, horrifying images created by Poe, and had enough talent to bring them to life in his own paintings.