We were invited to talk about translating scent into words and vice versa a the Free Word Centre this summer, among a panel of experts from fields related to the fascinating topic of cross modal translation. The evening featured a reading from Philippe Claudel’s book Parfums – an autobiography told entirely via scented memories – and its translator Euan Cameron was one of the panelists on the night.
Participants were invited to play with jars of unusual odours, too, which enhanced the message of how tricky it can be to come up with an essential, universally agreed meaning for an odour.
The Free Word Centre is an international organisation dedicated to literature, literacy and free expression. With the help of Fritt Ord, a free expression foundation in Norway, and Arts Council England, Free Word Centre first opened its doors in 2009. It is now home to 6 Residents and over 40 Associates. Free Word is a charity, and it is with the generous support of trusts and individuals that we continue to explore the cultural and political power of words.