James Hyett is a translator | James Hyett traduit

C'est vrai! I am primarily interested in literary translation of French into English. Click here to return to my homepage.

Having grown up bilingual, I have throughout my life worked in both English and French. A chance opportunity to live interpret for a visiting theatre artist in undergrad and a summer job at the Canadian Translation Bureau in Québec City were my first professional exposures to translation work. I deepened my interest in languages throughout my study in linguistics. But I had noodled around with translation before this as well, as with my adolescent attempts to translate e.e. cummings into French. Most recently, I have been working on a project to translate Madame de Villedieu's 1665 tragi-comedy Le Favory into English. I'm always looking for more French work to translate, so if you are looking for a translator, drop me a message on Neocities! If you're not going to send me spam, you can also email me. I was lucky enough to register a Gmail account that uses just my full name as the local-part.

Le Favory

I am at present working on an English translation of Le Favory by Madame de Villedieu, a French tragi-comedy from 1665. I became fascinated by the potential this play has for internet-mediated performance in the era of Zoom theatre. Since appetites for such things have waned, I still think the text is a noteworthy piece of French theatre, not least because it was the first female-authored play performed at French court. I have been pleased to see it receive some recognition by the Hedgepig Ensemble's Expand the Canon initiative, appearing on their 2023 list of classic plays by women that should be produced more.

Having received some money to begin the translation in late 2022, I set about from December 2023 to February 2024 to translate the first two acts. I wanted to see whether I had what it takes to do literary translation on this scale. I wound up translating around 75% percent of the play, under the mentorship of Sonya Malaborza, and in 2024 am hoping to have it read by some people before finalizing my first draft.

My time with Sonya beginning the translation was funded by the Ontario Arts Council.

I am still working to complete the translation, because it will be read aloud on August 12, 2024 at The Understudy in Chicago, by members of the Midsommer Flight company. Find out more about the reading and the theatre company that is putting it on at their webpage for the event here.

e.e. cummings in French

I became fascinated with the complexity required to translate the work of American poet e.e. cummings into French sometime in high school. I have a few sketched translations in a big ledger book I used to use as a notebook during that time. Most of those poems are still under copyright, so I can't share them. But one of them, "Spring is like a perhaps hand" is out of copyright, and you can read my translation below.