Posts Tagged: translation

Midsummer Night

The Books of A Midsummer Night’s Press

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Julie Marie Wade explores the amazing work done by A Midsummer Night's Press. ...more

Stories That Must Be Told

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To read Alejandro Zambra is to engage with someone who writes as though the burden of history were upon him and no one else — the history of his country of Chile, of literature, and of humanity’s shared experience. You get it from his pages, a sense that a story must be told, intimately and without reservation.

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Lost in Translation

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Three Percent, a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester, derives its name from the fact that about 3 percent of all the books published in the U.S. every year are translations. But the bulk of these are technical writings or reprints of literary classics; only 0.7 percent are first-time translations of fiction and poetry.

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Resurrecting a Monster

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Forty-one years after his death, JRR Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf has been published by his son Christopher. Tolkien translated Beowulf early in his career, yet never published it. In the New Yorker, Joan Acocella speculates on the reason:

Another possible explanation for Tolkien’s putting “Beowulf” aside—a theory that has been advanced in the case of many unpublished manuscripts—is that the work was so important to him that if he finished it his life, or the life of his mind, would be over.

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Joyce Proves as Difficult to Translate as to Read

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The first of three parts of a Chinese translation of Finnegans Wake consumed eight years of translator Dai Congrong’s life. The almost unreadable book proves even more difficult to translate because of the many puns and layered meanings, explains MobyLives:

The novel has been deemed “untranslatable” and the translations that are successful tend to be consuming: the Polish version took ten years to finish, the French version thirty years, and the Japanese version took three separate translators after the first disappeared and the second went mad.

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Is There Too Much Translation?

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Writing over at Brooklyn Quarterly, Will Evans discusses why he founded a publishing house dedicated to translation:

In addition to being a philosophical problem, literary translation is also a contentious business matter. There are thousands of good to all-time-great books published in the world every year in every language imaginable, but only a couple hundred of those ever get published in English, and that’s in a good year.

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Jay Gatsby Invades Poland

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Polish language speakers are getting a new translation of The Great Gatsby, but a modern translation raises all sorts of linguistic issues. The primary difference, of course, is that the original translator wrote under the iron curtain and without the aid of Google:

It was, therefore, more difficult for her to track down various details, such as those concerning well-known financiers or popular culture starlets of the 1920s.

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“Kholden Kolfeeld’s” Russian Fans

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Amid the flood of J. D. Salinger articles related to the upcoming biography and documentary about him, this New Yorker essay by Reed Johnson stands out.

It has nothing to do with the biography, actually. It’s about Russian translations of The Catcher in the Rye (or Over the Abyss in Rye as the most popular one is titled) and raises all sorts of interesting questions about how to convey American ideas about iconoclasm and conformity—not to mention slang—to Russian readers.

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