Translators: The invisible profession?

Translators are, in a way, invisible. The modern attitude is that literary translations should be as target language oriented as possible, not quite localised, but enough so that they read like they were written in the target language. Some publishers allow a little foreign flavour, the occasional expression left untranslated, as in, for example Pierre Magnan's The Murdered House that I reviewed some time ago. This emphasis on the invisibility of the translators has, inevitably, led to the profession being not only underappreciated, but underpaid as well. The above link leads to an article that investigates this phenomenon.

Comments

Lee said…
A good translator is as much an artist as the original author, sometimes more. I'm currently reading the newish Grossman translation of Don Quixote, and the woman is close to genius: the text entirely readable, often laugh-out-loud funny, yet retaining so much of the original flavour - as far as I can tell, not being able to read Spanish, much less 16th century Spanish.
Bibliophile said…
I agree. Most people don't realise that translating a literary work is just as hard as writing one, and you generally have much less time to do it in. Someone (I think it was Nabokov) said that a translator's genius had to be the same kind of genius as the author's for a translation to be good.
Translation is constant decision-making, and much more complicated than non-translators could ever imagine, which is why it's sad that it's such a thankless job. This is why I always comment on the translation and give the translator's name when I review translated books.

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