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The A to Z of Literary Translation

By Georgia de Chamberet

Whilst writing about English PEN's "Writers in Translation" committee, of which I am a member—tapping into my experiences as an editor, agent and publicist—the idea of doing a fun, but far from definitive listing, the A to Z Of Literary Translation, came to mind.


Artistry and adaptation are essential to the process of literary translation, since translation is an act of writing. Also accuracy and avoiding short cuts based on the íwhen in doubt, cut it outë approach. Writers make good translators—obvious examples being Baudelaire (translator of Edgar Allen Poe) and Robert Graves (translator of classical Latin and Greek authors and George Sand).

Beyond words into the mystery of language, and its cultural hinterland, is where a good translator will carry the reader on a journey of discovery. Good literature is primarily concerned with human beings, and is cosmopolitan, travelling beyond national identity and a book's original social and cultural context—the same goes for a good translation.

Cultural institutes act like portals. Conferences, festivals, magazines and websites are ways in which foreign publishers and writers can cultivate interest in their work, with the aim of seducing British and American commissioning editors to buy translation rights.


Stay tuned for D to F next week....

Published Feb 14, 2008   Copyright 2008 Georgia de Chamberet

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