The A to Z of Literary Translation: P to R

By Georgia de Chamberet

Publishers in the independent sector are fundamental to ensure variety in the marketplace; they are surviving despite stiff competition and the discount war, (ref. Society of Authors, The Future of Independent Publishing). Tired preconceptions continue to hamper the progress of translations in the UK where a shockingly low percentage of the overall number of books published annually are translations. Arcadia, Bloomsbury, Bitter Lemon Press, Canongate, Faber, Gallic Books, Hesperus Press, Marion Boyars, Oneworld Classics (incorporating Calder Publications), Portobello Books, Pushkin Press, Serpent's Tail, and Telegram lead the way in showcasing new voices from abroad. Foreign authors who break through often start out with an indy (as did Michel Houellebecq, originally translated by Paul Hammond).

Quality is paramount. The argument goes that íthe test of a real translation is that it should not read like translation at allë (Lawrence Venuti, The Translation Studies Reader). A bad translation, like bad writing, is soulless, lacks style and features clangers; worst of all, it can destroy an author's chances of being enjoyed by a new readership. For author and translator to go through a translation together, if necessary sentence by sentence, and decide how to solve problems, is a process which generally guarantees quality.

Reading broadens horizons and expands the mind, so when you take a trip down the translation highway you have gone one better: new worlds are at your fingertips. Don't forget to travel with a Babel Guide or two, or else Martin Seymour-Smith's Guide to Modern World Literature.



Hearing the word - translation - in the U.S.A. seems to refer exclusively to works translated from a different language into English.  Seemingly, no thought is given to English speaking writers who’ve had their work translated into another language, such as my play translated from English into




Is my perception incorrect; and, if not, what is the rationale for what I’ve seen.  Thank you!
COMMENT: thanks for pointing out 1/ error of omission with regards to christopher maclehose who has kept the translation flame burning over the years creating various excellent imprints - as you flag up his latest being maclehose press under the umbrella of quercus 2/ the focus being on languages translated into english as there is a great disparity/imbalance when it comes to the number of books translated to rather than from english (a huge subject in itself!)
DATE: 04/29/2008 4:21:35 AM

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