As proven by the conversations at BookExpo America, American publishers, editors and readers may finally be coming around to embracing more foreign literature.
Some welcome encouragement…
What’s better for translated literature: starting a publishing house or publicizing what’s already available?
Melville House’s Sal Robinson jumps into the fray…
- 6 months ago
Two drawings from Tom Keogh’s portfolio in the first issue of The Paris Review.
Addition, via Maud Newton: The second drawing is of his then-wife, Theodora Keogh, a neglected midcentury novelist, a onetime dancer, a fan of wildcats (as pets) and chickens (as pets), and Theodore Roosevelt’s granddaughter. Two of her best novels … are being reissued this year.
I’ve recently been called out for proclaiming to be a sci-fi fan, but not walking the walk so to speak. (it’s been a while since I read anything from the genre). With that in mind, I can’t wait to get my hands on this new offering from FSG: Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. Hopefully a new coup de coeur!
- 6 months ago
Great interview with Jordan Stump at WWB. Beyond being a superb translator, he is a really nice guy and very obligingly signed my worn copy of We Monks and Soldiers at a reading a few weeks back.
I saw Edith (Ms. Grossman?) speak at CUNY a few weeks ago, took studious notes, and promptly forgot to blog them. That said, they are definitely worth sharing so apologies for my truancy! In her (paraphrased) words:
1) It’s necessary to love (or at least have a great fondness for) the work you’re translating. Translation is like a marriage - it’s hard to get in bed with someone you don’t like.
2) You need to look up EVERYTHING.
3) There is no such thing as a good literal translation.
4) As a translator you will encounter certain milestones. They are the following: publishers, reviewers, and the myths that surround translation (i.e. that something got lost in translation).
5) Re that last part, something is rather found in translation. Translation does things to the language, and all for the better.
6) A good translator cares more about the text than almost anyone in the world.
7) Anything you need to know about the book is in the book.
I especially appreciate that last one. To expand a bit, Grossman was responding to a question about the possibly hidden intentions of an author and how the translator should take those intentions into account. She responded that while everyone will have difference experiences (reading a text) and different expectations, all you need as a translator is the text in front of you. I was happy to hear her straightforward answer as I am a big believer in the idea that all you need are the words on the page (and obviously a strong understanding of the culture and language) without straying into hypotheticals and obscure theoretical arenas. I’m sure I’ve left tons of things out but these are the ideas and thoughts that stayed with me the most after she spoke. Other topics included the role of technology in translation (Grossman didn’t have a lot to say about this other than to praise Google) and experimental translation (to paraphrase her response: phshaw!) She also described her start as a translator as “serendipitous” and explained why staying at home in her jeans motivated her to keep on with the profession. Grossman was engaging, funny, and seemed very no-nonsense at the same time (deflecting a persistent and contrary audience member determined to start a fight about which language is inherently richer: english or spanish?) Grossman’s book Why Translation Matters is full of helpful tips and gems about translation, but there is something to be said for hearing such an influential and reputable translator talk about her experiences in person.
Ah so excited! I just stumbled across the website for Small Demons, a so-called Wikipedia for books. The site lets you look up almost anything you want (song, poem, literary allusion, celebrity, and so on) within other books. I feel like this could be enormous help for translators (especially those translating from English) by allowing you to cross-reference obscure allusions etc. Well maybe I’m getting ahead of myself but the potential is definitely there! I don’t envy its creators their job but am very happy they are around.