I’m a freelance German- and Spanish-to-English translator, and my goal is to work for liberation, not for corporations.
My current large-scale project is a translation of Rudolf Rocker’s memoirs. Rocker (1873-1958) was a labor organizer, orator, and leading early theorist of anarcho-syndicalism. His book Nationalism and Culture, the many pamphlets he published during his lifetime, and his efforts establishing both the Free Workers Union of Germany (FAUD) and the International Workers Association (IWA) have left a deep mark on anarchist and labor movement thought and organizing, as well as on left theorizing about nationalism, religion, and the state more broadly.
Late in his life, Rocker wrote three books of memoirs, amounting to more than 2,000 typewritten manuscript pages. I estimate that’s upwards of 600,000 words. Translating the whole thing, would be unfeasible in terms of the time and work that it would take. Such a massive project would require a couple of years of my life working full time, and I simply can’t afford that. And in any case, the end result would be a huge volume (or maybe a trilogy) that few people would want to wade through. Rocker was a gifted writer, but with that kind of scale, there are a few unnecessary tangents and a great many redundant passages. In their totality, the manuscripts are a useful historical document, but not really ripe for publication.
So my job is, in part, to cut out a lot of what I believe would be uninteresting or just unnecessary for readers, and translate the rest. But it’s still a huge undertaking and I’m hoping to produce a 300-500 page book, to be published by PM Press some time in the next few years.
I’ve got the materials I need, and I’ve got a publisher just waiting for me to hand over a usable document. What I don’t have is the financial backing I need to continue to, you know, eat while I’m working on this. And that’s where you come in.
I’ve already edited/draft-translated the first 300 pages or so, so I’m off to a good start. I now plan to begin publishing drafts of that work on Medium no less than once a week until the project is done. If this looks interesting to you, please consider supporting my work with a small donation.
The drafts will be available without a paywall, so you’re free to check in at any time, whether or not you’re contributing financially. Just understand that they are, still and all, part of a work in progress. Some of the drafts won’t make it to publication, others will be edited further prior to publication.
I also do sporadic volunteer translations that I think are socially useful. I’ve worked on a number of articles for Belltower, the journalistic outlet of the Amadeu-Antonio-Stiftung in Germany. The Stiftung is a foundation that monitors and analyzes far-right activity in Germany and elsewhere, and most of the work I’ve done for them has been on my own dime. Lastly, I’m (slowly) working on translating an extended pamphlet detailing the history and background of the Rote Hilfe Kommittees, which started doing political prisoner solidarity work in the 1920s, and continued until the Hitler regime made it impossible. I’m doing my translation on behalf of their successor org, the Rote Hilfe, e.V., and that is also a volunteer project. So if you support my work on the Rocker memoirs, you are also supporting my other international solidarity and antifascist work.
We can’t afford to disregard lessons offered by past generations and from one another at a global level. I believe the Rocker memoirs and these other projects are a meaningful effort to fill that gap.