Most people would not learn an entirely new language simply to read a book they have found in a dusty corner of their local thrift store, but that is exactly what author Neil Sogge did.
“The Red Meadows,” originally by the Danish author Ole Juul, was found wedged into an unremarkable shelf, but its effect on Sogge was quite impactful.
“I stumbled upon a Norwegian translation of the book and taught myself the language so I could read it,” Sogge said. “I wasn’t that far into it when I said to myself, ‘I must translate this.’ I had this strange compulsion. It became my duty.”
Using Danish and Norwegian copies of the text, Sogge set to work teaching himself the languages so that English speakers could immerse themselves in the gritty and riveting World War II novel.
“It was difficult,” Sogge said. “Not only did I have to translate from a different language, but from a different time period as well. It may have been easier if it were a straightforward unfolding of events, but the story unfolds in an abstract way. Not even the narration is completely linear.”
The novel centers on the captured Danish soldier Michael’s dreams and memories about home and the events leading up to his capture. In the novel, nothing is really what it seems. In the hospital where he is held, Michael is physically and mentally tortured and degraded. His best friend is a Nazi guard, while one of his greatest threats is a priest.
Through Michael’s capture while bombing a Nazi factory and his isolation and torture at the hospital leading up to his escape attempt, the themes of trust and the nature of reality are put at odds with our common conceptions. Nothing is what it seems and no one is whom they say. The novel shows the war through the eyes of a Dane as he finds himself a mere player in a grand scheme.
For more information, visit http://www.theredmeadows.com