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Why Translation Matters

Why Translation Matters

edith grossman
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Why Translation Matters
    Book Description:

    Why Translation Mattersargues for the cultural importance of translation and for a more encompassing and nuanced appreciation of the translator's role. As the acclaimed translator Edith Grossman writes in her introduction, "My intention is to stimulate a new consideration of an area of literature that is too often ignored, misunderstood, or misrepresented."

    For Grossman, translation has a transcendent importance: "Translation not only plays its important traditional role as the means that allows us access to literature originally written in one of the countless languages we cannot read, but it also represents a concrete literary presence with the crucial capacity to ease and make more meaningful our relationships to those with whom we may not have had a connection before. Translation always helps us to know, to see from a different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar. As nations and as individuals, we have a critical need for that kind of understanding and insight. The alternative is unthinkable."

    Throughout the four chapters of this bracing volume, Grossman's belief in the crucial significance of the translator's work, as well as her rare ability to explain the intellectual sphere that she inhabits as interpreter of the original text, inspires and provokes the reader to engage with translation in an entirely new way.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16303-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. introduction: why translation matters
    (pp. 1-34)

    To introduce these essays, I thought it would be useful to pass along some incidental information about my background and the circumstances that led me, however indirectly, to a career in translation.

    When I was young—a high school student—it was not my intention to be a translator. I knew I wanted to learn languages and had a vague idea about being an interpreter. (I wasn’t quite sure what the difference between the two professions was, but interpreting sounded more exciting; it suggested travel, exotic places, important events, world-shaking conferences at the United Nations.) As an undergraduate at the...

  5. 1 authors, translators, and readers today
    (pp. 35-60)

    The vast, constantly expanding sea of contemporary literature can easily swamp any reader interested in keeping abreast of new works and new writers. In my own case, and I believe this is true for many other people as well, I can find no way to read all the good books published in even one year in a single language. Despite our best intentions and finest desires, too many of those books pass us by as the pile of still-to-be-read volumes grows higher and higher, while our eyes seem to move more and more slowly, and our already jammed schedules become...

  6. 2 translating cervantes
    (pp. 61-88)

    Translation is a strange craft, generally appreciated by writers (with a few glaring exceptions, like Milan Kundera, whose attack on his French translator was so virulent it achieved a sour kind of notoriety), undervalued by publishers (translators’ fees tend to be so low that agents generally are not interested in representing them), trivialized by the academic world (there are still promotion and tenure committees that do not consider translations to be serious publications), and practically ignored by reviewers (astonishingly, it is still possible to find reviews that do not even mention the translator’s name, let alone discuss the quality of...

  7. 3 translating poetry
    (pp. 89-120)

    John Felstiner knows more than most about the translation of difficult verse. He not only has translated the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Paul Celan but has written incisively and compellingly, in two brilliant books—Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu, andPaul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew—about the process of bringing the work of those poets over into English. Felstiner consistently affirms the intrinsic, independent significance of the successful poetic translation, calling it a literary artifact as noteworthy and estimable as the original piece of writing. The attribution of extreme value to the translation is a concept that...

  8. A Personal List of Important Translations
    (pp. 121-124)
  9. works cited
    (pp. 125-126)
  10. acknowledgments
    (pp. 127-128)
  11. index
    (pp. 129-136)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 137-138)