Racket Boy – An autobiography by Philip George

The Magic of Translation

Racket Boy pursues the translation path, beginning with – the Italian language!

What better place for a meeting than Viareggio, one of Italy’s most elegant coastal towns, with its grand Art Nouveau palaces and architectural history that rolls back the centuries?

On a crisp morning, RB departs his village in San Romano, navigates the Apuane Mountains, en route paying homage to Michelangelo and Carrara, arriving on time at Via Rosolino Pilo, 12, Citta Di Viareggio, to meet Alessandro, the translator, and Alex, his partner and lawyer, who will be the additional set of eyes, creating a meticulous “four eyes” approach.

It is a crucial gathering to ensure the Italian translation of Racket Boy’s book resonated with the translator’s understanding of RB’s mindset. The warm Italian greeting in the stylish coffee patisserie set the tone for discussions. Amidst the four Alessi coffee machines, RB leads a conversation on Italy’s elegance, contrasting it with the Protestant Anglo-Saxon culture of England, the MAGA ideology in the USA, and the right-wing factions of political parties. He touches on his departure from England and critiques the current attitudes of the USA and UK governments toward freedom of speech.

As the Argentinean blue skies embrace the gathering, RB unfolds the essence of his book, with the Alessi coffee machines silently observing. RB shares his journey through chapters 1-7 in Malaya, chapters 8-23 in England spanning from September 1970 to 2012, and chapter 24 capturing the Tuscany period from 2012 to 2023, with the Epilogue holding the key to the overarching theme.

To accentuate the central theme of “HOPE” in the book, RB brings in an analogy from the French story of Devil’s Island, painting a vivid picture of Steven McQueen and Dustin Hoffman clinging to hope in dire circumstances, likening it to his own journey. The message, he asserts, is universal – a valuable mantra for underdogs globally, RB’s optimism and “good effort”, despite being an underdog, being a light of encouragement.

As Alessandro and Alex absorb the narrative, RB effortlessly connects the ethos of the book to the interpretation of Acts of Parliament, using the Golden Rule, Literal Rule, and Mischief Rule. The golden thread running through the book, however, is HOPE, a force that keeps individuals going, even when facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. RB emphasizes the Indian concept of Yatra which encapsulates his journey – an odyssey filled with optimism and effort.

Alex, now grasping the depth of this journey, recognises the simplicity of going to a cave, to let one’s mind wander, finding parallels with RB’s path.

The moment of revealing the signed copy of Racket Boy’s English edition, tucked in a Fortnum and Mason carrier bag, is pivotal. Alessandro and Alex browse the pages. They not only appreciate its content but also savour the tactile experience. Alex’s act of smelling the book, is a positive indicator, in tandem with RB’s meticulous approach. The Italian translation, RB feels, is in capable hands.

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