'Boundaries' Translated by Writing Student Laura Green Published in 'World Literature Today'

Nicole Saldarriaga
July 21, 2021

"Boundaries," a short story by Marianne Vitale translated from the Italian by Writing student Laura Green, has been published in World Literature Today. Green translated the piece as part of the School of the Arts' Word for Word collaboration project with Scuola Holden in Turin, Italy. 

"Boundaries" takes place by the Italian seaside, relating the story of two teens, a brief encounter, and a quick emotional intimacy. In her translator's note, Green shares that one of the main challenges of translating the story was in capturing the nuances of the teens' banter. "Implicit in the teens' conversations," says Green, "are the intricacies of life in Rimini—the divide between private and public beaches, nuances of the Italian high school system, distinctive characteristics of the Adriatic Sea. Clarifying these concepts for the American reader without letting the dialogue come across as stilted proved challenging. The dialogue in "Boundaries" is full of double meanings, subtle shifts in conversational tone, and the unspoken is often as important as what's said." 

"Word for Word was a great experience,” Green shared. “[Adjunct] Professor Katrina Dodson inspired and drove us to create our best work. I was very fortunate to be paired with...Marianna Vitale, who at the time was a student at Scuola Holden in Turin. Mari is talented, ambitious, and a pleasure to work with. We collaborated closely, sending each other images and explanations to provide context for our stories and settings. For “Boundaries,” for instance, she sent me images of the beach in Rimini and detailed explanations of the Italian school system, the private versus public beaches, the slang and innuendo that at first went over my head. My translation is much richer and more precise as a result of our interaction.”

In addition to World Literature Today publishing Green’s translation of “Boundaries,” the Italian literary magazine Spazinclusi will publish Mari’s translation of Green's short story “Hellseer” in the fall. 

“Mari and I have continued to work with each other beyond the Word for Word program,” Green said. “I’m particularly enthusiastic about her latest work “The Body,” a coming-of-age story that explores how when growing up we internalize the things we’re told, how we are hurt and hurt others in turn. I’ve just finished translating it and will be seeking a home for it soon."

Laura Venita Green is an MFA candidate and Undergraduate Creative Writing Teaching Fellow at Columbia University.