Monday, 28 February 2011

Editing or editorialising...?

And now for something slightly different: when editing goes wrong. I just came across an interesting controversy rooted in the publication of Dalkey Archive Press's Best European Fiction 2011. The Croatian writer Mima Simić, who translated her own Croatian story 'My Girlfriend' into English for the publication, found that her story had been edited without her knowledge or permission. Among other changes, she was horrified to find that the narrator, who had been female in the original Croatian story and who was of deliberately unidentified gender in the English translation, had been 'straightened' in the published English version so that she became he, and 'my girlfriend' was the other half of a straight couple.
For Simić's full account see here; for comments on this story see here and here.I'm sure there's more to the story than meets the web, but it suggests that gender remains a live problem for translators. Readers might like to compare this tale of woe with other stories of gender-switching in the Galician translation of Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and editorialising in translation (see Lawrence Venuti on his translation of Melissa P.'s 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed).

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