Friday, 4 April 2008

Let's Read Together

I have to warn you: this is hardly new stuff, but I think it's very much worth reading.

My suggestion for this weekend's reading matter is the Supplement to Volume 4 Number 3 of Brunel University's EnterText - an interactive interdisciplinary e-journal for cultural and historical studies and creative work.

Now no chatting at the back there, for this is seriously translation-related. The supplement contains eight papers from the 2004 "Shelving Translation" conference, all about the role of the translated text in Britain today.

A lot of it is theoretical, from a comparison of reviews of translations in Spain, France and the UK to translating intertextuality. But if that's not your idea of fun, you'll find these papers are bracketed by items from translation practitioners: Anthea Bell and Christopher MacLehose, once at Harvill and now in charge of his own translation imprint at Quercus. He writes:

At Harvill I have tried to find a translator of seventy summers or more, scholars for whom high wires over the Niagara were a thing of the past. Why so senior? The translation of the mere language is presumably but a quarter of the work and the more experienced and more deeply read a translator is in the literature of the source language—as well as aware of the day-to-day ways and social and political history—the more readily he or she will recognise the landscape of literary and quotidian memory behind the language, the invisible veins beneath the surface of a text. Joan Tate, the exceptional ambassador for and tireless translator of a whole library of valuable books from Swedish, used to say that vocabulary was no more than a sixteenth part of translation. Guido Waldman, my colleague at Harvill, and himself a very good translator although only in his sixties, did not share all of my convictions about translators and was forever finding young, untried ones, and one after the other they won the best prizes.


I haven't looked at any of the others yet, but I'll be thinking of you, dear readers, as I settle down to a good long read over the weekend. Enjoy.

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