The art of translation

The original is unfaithful to the translation -Jorge Luis Borges  


I recently heard an interview with american translator Edith Grossman who is called the Glenn Gold of translation ,this is an apt interpretation of  the art of translation ,like a pianist they have to interpret a composer’s music their own way .the art of translation is the same as the translator has to  capture the spirit of the original piece in their own language .I want to highlight a few translators who work I have admired in the last few months – 


Anthea Bell


Anthea Bell – 

Anthea bell translates both adult and children’s fiction ,she works on pieces in french ,German and Danish ,she has work notably on wonderfully poetic translation of  my beloved Sebald and on Pushkin’s press new translations of Stefan Zweig .she has also won a number of prizes for her translations including independent foreign translation prize for Sebald’s Austerlitz . 


Micheal Henry Heim – 

Michael Heim is professor of slavic language at U.C.L.A ,he translates works from Russian ,Czech,Serbo-Croatian and Dutch .My first book of the year was his wonderful translation of Hugo Claus wonder from the Dutch to English ,where i felt he really caught Claus vision of a man falling apart so well  in translation,this book was shortlist for this years three percent award for translation . 


Margaret jill Costa- 

Margaret Costa is one of the main translators alongside Edith Grossman of Spanish Literature and also portuguese as well as basque .I have enjoy her work on Saramago’s and Atxaga books in the last year ,she has won numerous awards and is the only translator to have won both open to all translation prizes in U.K and U.S.A ,the pen award and Oxford Weidenfield award .She has been working with Dedalus books on a number of short books in recent years . 


Edith Grossman


Edith Grossman – 

Edith Grossman is the most respected translator of latin american fiction she works on Marquez ,Fuentes and Vargas Llosa works ,she also complete a totally new translation of Cervantes Don Quixote which was well received even gaining praise from Harold Bloom .She has published her own book why translation matters about the art of translation ,which an interview with her ,i heard had inspired this post .I have loved her translations of Marquez and am wanting to read the Don Quixote she has done . 

Don Quixote

So next time you read and review a book please acknowledge the translator I will be doing in future !

what translators do you admire ?

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. farmlanebooks
    Apr 08, 2010 @ 19:43:44

    I agree that translators are often over looked. Having read some terrible translations I now really admire the good ones and always try to include their names on my blog posts.


    • winstonsdad
      Apr 08, 2010 @ 20:00:54

      i haven ‘t always but am going make sure i do ,agree good translator makes difference ,some times look at translator when buying the book myself ,these four are all great thou


  2. The Book Whisperer
    Apr 09, 2010 @ 16:24:35

    What a great post, Stu. Please feel free to slap my wrists as the translator is something I never even take into consideration and after reading this I really think I should.

    I read quite a lot of translated fiction and I can’t say that I even know who the translator was and I feel like I could be missing out now. I will certainly be looking in the future.

    On this subject, does anyone know which is the best translation of Zola’s Germinal as I intend reading that soon and I know the penguin and OUP versions have different translators.


    • winstonsdad
      Apr 09, 2010 @ 18:38:51

      thanks boof ,yes i don’t always ,but i m going to try to in the future ,there is about 10 don quixote’s translations out there


  3. Kinna
    Apr 09, 2010 @ 16:32:17

    My favorite translator is Margaret Costa – I’ve written about her on my blog. I also admire Edith Grossman.


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April 2010


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