Howard Scott,
Translator of The Euguelion,
Wins the 1997
Governor General's Award for Translation

In awarding the prize to Howard Scott, the jury said, "With originality and flair, Howard Scott has successfully tackled a work that nearly defies translation. . . . [He] finds ingenious solutions to a wide range of daunting translation problems, including French wordplay for which he finds imaginative English equivalents. He recreates the excitement of the original French text for the English reader. This is the essence of translation."

In his acceptance speech, Howard talked about how a boy from a unilingual English area of rural Ontario came to have such a passion for languages. His earliest exposure to French was on the CBC children's television show Chez Hélène, which featured Hélène Baillargeon, who spoke only French, an English-speaking mouse, and a little girl who spoke both languages. Many years later, while working on his translation of L'Euguélionne, Howard found out that one of the show's writers was none other than Louky Bersianik.

Howard has lived most of his adult life in Montreal, where he works as a freelance translator. In addition to The Euguelion, his translations include Lair and Song for a Far Quebec by poet Madeleine Gagnon, and stories by science fiction writer Élisabeth Vonarburg. Aside from literary translation, his passions include science fiction and the Japanese martial art aikido, in which he holds a black belt.

How did a mild-mannered Ontario guy come to translate one of the landmark works of Quebec feminist writing?

Howard Scott explains:

It's been twenty years since Louky Bersianik's L'Euguélionne was first published, and I've been working on translating it, off and on, for almost as long.

The book had an enormous impact in Quebec when it was first published. It was a natural choice as a project for a group of translation students whose political leanings coincided very much with those presented in the book. We even managed to get Concordia University to accept the idea of a collective, interdisciplinary MA, with each member of the group concentrating on a particular aspect of the book.

For various reasons, the other three students, the three women, dropped out of the project. I decided to go on--which is how I ended up in the rather interesting position of being the first student of Concordia University to be granted a Master's degree in Women's Studies.

I continued to work on the translation in the hope of publishing it, and eventually I found a publisher adventurous enough to take on the project.

Congratulations, Howard!

Listen to Howard read an excerpt from The Euguelion (in Real Audio) by visiting the National Library's Web site: