Sunday, 19 January 2014

Translators on translation

I'd love to see more pieces by translators about getting into the nitty-gritty of texts. Sometimes we ask our students to analyse translations against the translators' own discourse (from prefaces, interviews, notes etc.). It can be tricky to find these at short notice, except perhaps in the case of older translation prefaces which can sometimes be tracked down via repositories like Project Gutenberg.

So here are some suggestions for finding translators talking about their work.

The Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas has collected interviews with a number of eminent translators, many from Spanish.

Words Without Borders has a series of posts 'From the Translator'

There is a growing collection of pieces by translators on the authors they have translated at

The Necessary Fiction blog has collected a number of Translators' Notes.

Peter Bush's 2003 essay on translating Juan Goytisolo remains a great point of reference and shows how enlightening it can be to look at successive drafts of the same passage.

Lydia Davis has been widely interviewed about her translations of Proust and of Flaubert. For instance, peeping out from behind the Paris Review paywall are the intriguing opening paragraphs of this essay.

We have previously mentioned William Weaver's wonderful piece on translating Gadda.

And Daniel Hahn is nearing the end of a diary about his translation of a novel by Saavedra (it might be worth saving these pages as you go, because I don't know how long they will be available; a previous blog on translating Agualusa was later collected and published and is no longer on the web).

UPDATE 14 November 2014: There's a new blog on the block called brouillon, which collects translators' reflections on specific knotty words and phrases. There are just a few posts at time of writing but it looks very promising! 

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