A couple of highlights in the world of translation that I wanted to highlight, just in case you, my dear reader, is interested. In February of 2009, the Salzburg Global Seminar(get a copy of the pdf on Three Percent) was held. They discussed several topics dealing with translation – influencing the publishing world, why funding is important in the public and private sector, the role of literary translation in the educational process and what translators and their associations can do to promote literary translation. The two most interesting topics to me were the role of literary translation in the educational process and what translators can do to promote literary translation.
It has always seemed to me that there is a serious lack of exposure for students to global literature unless they are involved into a particular language. I have thought that there has to be some integral approach to marrying world history and world literature. Understanding other cultures and their place as culture at a particular time in history can only be abetted by reading literature or selections of authors from that country and time as opposed to merely memorizing dates, wars and leaders. Starting this at a younger age would increase awareness and acceptance of other countries and cultures with a natural progression to higher demand for multicultural anthologies, novels and nonfiction. Also, analyzing and studying texts opens up the door for deeper understanding of linguistic differences and the role of a translator. I am not giving any more new information that was found during the seminar, but emphasizing the importance of these points. And I definitely agree that within the university system there needs to be a conscious effort to make the study of translation a viable option for degrees and postgraduate work. And also, if libraries carried more childrens books that are translated(which, believe me, that are many, many great ones out there) it would benefit sating the curiosity of children and allow them to expand their imaginations with multicultural fables and legends.
And as far as the topic of translators promoting themselves, their organizations and their roles in a society of global literature, I emphatically believe that they should have the ability to write introductions and essays to accompany the work that they have translated. Basic Books has done this with the release of the re-translation of Francoise Sagan’s That Mad Ache/Translator, Trader(La Chamade) including a hundred page essay about the work of translation and Douglas Hofstadter’s experience of translating this particular work. I have a review of this to come, but regardless the quality of this particular essay, it seems to add so much to the work as well as the role of the translator to have them comment about their own process. I would love to see translators’ works be highlighted in bookstores and to develop relationships with independent bookstores in their own community to make sure that bookstores aren’t relying solely on the sales reps to give them a rundown of what’s coming out as far as translations go. Being a bookseller myself and dealing with particular publishers and cultural organizations has helped everyone involved and it would even better to have translators involved.
Which brings me to my next point, there are some great literary journals/online journals out there publishing translated works and I would love to see more Cultural institutions recognize and promote them as well as translators getting involved in promoting them. For instance, I was reading the always impressive Brooklyn Rail In Translation section of their online journal and was impressed with the quality of translations that they putout including one of my recent faves, Mohamed Metwalli, an Egyptian poet who has four poems featured on the In Translation blog, and translated by Gretchen McCollough and help from the author. Not to mention the e-journal that I am launching, E.Lire(looking for submissions, by the way).
And lastly, PEN honored Liu Xiaobo, Chinese dissident writer and activist last week. He has been under attack by the Chinese government for his work and is still one of China’s foremost literary and cultural critics. There is a petition on the PEN site that you can signed to urge China to release him(he has been detained since Dec.8,2008). If there is one thing we need, it is more work from Chinese writers as well as protection for the free expression of these writers.
Oh, this just in over the wire…The Armies by Evelio Rosero and translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean has just won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. It is not available through a US distributor, but will be about September. I have a advance copy and am so excited to dive into this novel. It was up against some great competition that is well worth checking out(Voice Over by Celilne Curiol!!)