Translation Matters

“Translation matters. It always has, of course… But perhaps right now translation is more important than ever,” says Rachel Cooke.

Some of the best translators concur, and share their secrets.

 

“An artist in her own right”

“I first read Chekhov in Russian, as a student, both short stories and the plays, but the effort to focus so hard on the original Russian, and my lack of experience in life, had left me, as a student, with a somewhat blurred vision of Chekhov himself. I rediscovered him much later, with the ease (and laziness) of reading in my own language, this time through translation. And it was a great gift: at last, through her work*, I could see clearly who Chekhov is as a writer, and why he is incomparable. It’s not really something you can explain; you read the translation, and you know.”

–Alison Anderson

*The speaker refers to translations created by Constance Garnett.

The role of the literary translator in the age of “Ferrante Fever.”

“Sometimes, I think, it’s puzzle-solving…”

“…I want to make good English sentences but without losing the particular voice of the Italian writer. I can’t explain how it happens. I think it has to do with staying pretty close to the original.”

— Ann Goldstein, head of the copy department at the New Yorker magazine, “accidental” book translator

“Her name on a book now is gold.”

— Robert Weil, editor-in-chief of Liveright

“A Book Translator Becomes A Star” by Jennifer Maloney, The Wall Street Journal, Arena, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016