The Highbrow Struggles of Translating Modern Children’s Books Into Latin

According to conventional wisdom, Latin is a dead language. But a simple Amazon search shows that it still has a surprisingly active life—not just in medical and law terminology, but also in children’s books. After serving as the chief language of ancient Rome, and then as the language of scholars and holy men, Latin mostly [...]

Women writers’ work is getting lost in translation

Britain now has a record number of female MPs, more women are on company boards, and work is being done to encourage more women to take up science. Yet women still aren’t equal to men. And if we think in terms of intersectional feminism – the connections between different multi-layered facets of oppression such as [...]

Lost in Translation: Proust and Scott Moncrieff

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best translation of any foreign work into the English language, his choice of Remembrance of Things Past as the general title alarmed the seriously ill Proust and misled generations of readers as [...]

The Rise of the Global Novelist

When Cities of Salt, an Arabic novel by Abdelrahman Munif, was published in translation in 1988, John Updike reviewed it for The New Yorker. “It is unfortunate,” Updike remarked, “given the epic potential of his topic, that Mr. Munif, a Saudi born in Jordan, appears to be—though he lives in France and received a Ph.D. [...]

Amazon expands its literary horizons, making big imprint in translation niche

The literary translation community in the U.S. has a tradition of being highbrow, a carefully tended yet narrow reflection of the stirrings of global culture beyond the Anglosphere. Then Amazon.com jumped in, like a whale into a koi pond. Armed with financial might and an intimate, machine-learned knowledge of reader behavior, the e-commerce giant made [...]

The subtle art of translating foreign fiction

Last year, I decided to treat myself to a new copy of Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan, a novel I have loved ever since I first read it as a teenager, and whose dreamy opening line in its original translation from the French by Irene Ash – “A strange melancholy pervades me to which I [...]

Homer’s The Odyssey: challenges for the 21st century translator

Homeric word-order is unusually accommodating towards its English equivalent. Verbs usually come where you expect them, adjectives sit near their nouns. Compared to, say, the complex structures of a Pindaric ode, or the elliptical one-line exchanges of dramatic dialogue, Homer’s largely paratactic progression of ‘…and…but…when…then…’ presents his translator with few immediate problems. I found this [...]

Translation project expands reach of Taiwan literature

Sixteen books by Taiwan authors have been translated into English, French, Japanese, Korean and Swedish as part of efforts by National Museum of Taiwan Literature in southern Taiwan’s Tainan City to expand the international reach of local literature. “These translations enable Taiwan’s national treasures to be enjoyed by our foreign friends,” NMTL Director Chen Yi-yuan [...]

Jon Snow knows nothing but a translator knows a lot

The universe built by G.R.R. Martin is not just a beautiful, haunting story, but also a real minefield for translators all over the world. Far from being invisible, as argued by many scholars, the translator adds his/her own contribution to the course of a book towards the reader. As a literary translator, an avid reader [...]

Gregory Rabassa, a Premier Translator of Spanish and Portuguese Fiction, Dies at 94

Gregory Rabassa, a distinguished translator from Spanish and Portuguese who brought the work of luminaries like Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa to a wide English-speaking public, died on Monday in Branford, Conn. He was 94. His family confirmed the death. A longtime faculty member of Queens College and the Graduate Center of the [...]