Among White's published translations are works by Oswald Spengler and Paul Celan. His translation of Albert Vigoleis Thelen's The Island of Second Sight took more than twenty years (off-and-on, as a labor of love) to complete. He fondly recalls two visits with A. V. Thelen and his wife Beatrice Beatrice in the 1980s, in Switzerland and Germany. Dr. White lives in Vermont, USA.
Selection of translated titles:
- Albert Vigoleis Thelen: The Island of Second Sight (Die Insel des zweiten Gesichts). Galileo, 2010
- Oswald Sprengler: Selected essays. Regnery, 1967
Three questions to Donald O. White
Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted?
Over the past 20 years or so I’ve been bi-lingual (English and German) both in my private and professional lives. Right from the start I really enjoyed translating written and spoken German into my native language. My first mentors in relation to questions about literary translation were Richard and Clara Winston, who were both friends of mine.
Which German book do you like the best and why?
Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain which is an unparalleled masterwork in every respect.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?
The short follow-up chapters of A. V. Thelen’s Insel des zweiten Gesichts ('The Island of Second Sight’), which was brought out by various German publishers in 1990 and 2000 respectively. The chapters are entitled Der Hirtenbrief, Ankunft in Porto, Die Gottlosigkeit Gottes and Tabakpanik. I’ve already attempted to translate them but don’t yet know if there’s a publisher out there (perhaps Galileo?) who’s prepared to take them on.