Wednesday, 5 May 2010

translation controversy

A lively translation controversy has been unscrolling over the pages of the London Review of Books this spring. It began with Toril Moi's critical review of the new translation of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and continued with ripostes from the translators, the publisher and other interested parties. A great illustration of the pressures that are exerted on ideas travelling between languages. Economic factors aside (if one can ever say that) I'm a big fan myself of heavily annotated translations - like good DVD extra features they puncture the illusion of transparency and lift us out of our absorption in the text to show us some of the scaffolding behind it. It will be interesting to see whether the rise in e-books will generate e-book extra texts, for those readers who want a sense of how the text turned out the way it did; could be very enriching for translation.

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