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Why Translation Matters (Why X Matters Series) Why X Matters Series edition Edition
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Most of the book is comprised of three lectures given at Yale as the first in a proposed annual series of lectures entitled "Why X Matters". Given her expertise, Edith Grossman addressed translation and why it matters. In addition to the lectures, the book contains a fourth chapter on translating poetry, which in Grossman's professional work has been poetry of the Spanish Renaissance.
Many of us who have not worked as translators, or whose work basically has been limited to classes in a foreign language, tend to think of translation as rather mechanical duplication or word-for-word transcription, i.e., for each word in the original language, substituting the most appropriate word in the target language. WHY TRANSLATION MATTERS certainly will disabuse anyone of that model. Let me quote two excerpts from the book:
"[T]he most fundamental description of what translators do is that we write--or perhaps rewrite--in language B a work of literature originally composed in language A, hoping that readers of the [translation] will perceive the text, emotionally and artistically, in a manner that parallels and corresponds to the esthetic experience of its first readers."
"To my mind, a translator's fidelity is not to lexical pairings but to context--the implications and echoes of the first author's tone, intention, and level of discourse.Read more ›
In chapter 2, Grossman tells us about the two years she took to translate Don Quixote, the things she had to consider and the things she had to do. Should she read all the English translations of the masterpiece? Should she study the scholarly literature about the book? Should she consider the different scholarly views about various passages and add footnotes? Should she approach her translation of this four hundred year old classic as he handled the modern Latin writers that she usually translated?
In chapter 3, she discusses how she and others handle translating poetry, and offers many examples. How does a translator capture the rhyme and rhythm of the original, its emotions, and its images, images from another country and, possibly also, a different time.
Grossman is certainly correct. Good translators make significant contributions to every book they translate. In fact, some translations are a lively duet between the original author and his or her translator.Read more ›
We read "100 Years of Solitude," and we read "The Green House" and "The War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa." And Manuel Puig's "Kiss of the Spider Woman." And "The Death of Artemio Cruz" by Carlos Fuentes. And several other works. I wrote my major paper of the seminar on Vargas Llosa's "Conversations in the Cathedral," which seems to have no narrative structure at all until you understand that it is actually four stories being told simultaneously. Think Faulkner on steroids.
But I didn't read these works, and many more to follow, in the original Spanish. I read them in translation. And so I met names like Alfred MacAdam, Helen Lane, Gregory Rabassa - and Edith Grossman.
"Why Translation Matters" is based upon two lectures Grossman gave at Yale University and an original essay written for this volume. She explains, with all of the artful love of a translator, what the process of translation involves, the challenges it poses (and they are formidable), and why translations are important. And she means translation "not as the weary journeyman of the publishing world but as a living bridge between two realms of discourse, two realms of experience, and two sets of readers."
For the fact is that no good translation can be a literal, word-for-word effort. It's simply not possible.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I haven't finished reading it but through the chapter on translating Cervantes it's just fine wiring that is a joy to appreciate.Published 6 days ago by Eladio Soto
A generally good, well-written and interesting work on the art of translation, marred only by some careless and foolish comments in support of Daniel Cassidy's 'creative'... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Seán
Edith Grossman writes very passionately and persuasively about the art of translation. Indeed, I found the passion in her writing contagious. Read morePublished on June 29, 2014 by Angela M
Though I am not a professional translator, I couldn't disagree more with the reviewers that found Grossman's "Why Translation Matters" a dry read. Read morePublished on October 5, 2012 by wch
I greatly appreciated Ms Grossman's clear, direct, didactic language in her book Why Translation Matters. Read morePublished on September 6, 2012 by Cristina Sanchez-Fuentes
I come to Why Translation Matters by Edith Grossman as an armchair translator. While I certainly appreciate and admire the work of translators, I am not a professional and perhaps... Read morePublished on February 21, 2012 by Craig Rowland
I'm not a professional translator. I'm just a young person interested in becoming a translator and exploring the possibility of getting a degree in it. Read morePublished on February 2, 2012 by Ms. Pigglewiggle
A great book that offers insight into what translators do; however, if book were merely this, it would be a rather narrow focus for many. Read morePublished on December 30, 2011 by H2Steacher
For the subject matter it tackles WHY TRANSLATION MATTERS is an astonishingly easy read (I read it twice: first on a flight from Europe to the US and then at home with a pencil in... Read morePublished on November 1, 2011 by ruslan smirnov