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Translator, Trader?

Photo by Lost in ScotlandThere is a fantastic new review of an essay on translating literature over at The Complete Review. Not only am I constantly impressed by the number of foreign-language books reviewed (either in translation or untranslated) over there, but the insight with which he addresses not only the merits of the work but the translation as well. This review deals with a new translation of That Mad Ache by Françoise Sagan, translated by Douglas R. Hofstadter.

What is especially interesting is that the book has two covers—a front and back. The front is for the text, the back, when turned upside down, is the cover of the long essay on translation by Hofstadter included with the text. I haven’t read it, but having read the review I think it’s safe to say that I will likely disagree with his discussion of translation in major parts. I would not translate Bonjour tristesse as Howdy, Blues, and don’t feel the need to elucidate texts as a translator—that is the job of the critic, teacher, or student. In any case, having not read it I was still struck by the magnitude of giving the translator not only so much page space in the book, but his own cover. And, according to The Complete Review, listing him on the front not as a translator but co-author.

Tags: Foreign-Language Books, Literary Translation, Literature, Publishing, Writing
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