Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Choosing One Book

In the interview mentioned in the last post, Alma Guillermoprieto says, “Another magical translator, Alistair Reid, whose versions of Neruda and Borges are like the Holy Law of translated poetry as far as I'm concerned, told me once that every writer who speaks a foreign tongue should translate at least one book he/she loves into his/her (how are we ever going to get out of this pronoun dilemma in English?) native language.”

What book would you translators choose and why? It's interesting to think about, but also a little sad, because it often seems that the books we most want to see translated to another language are the books that publishers don't believe in and won't accept, making the translation a real "labor of love."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

L'Etranger, by Camus.

Brett Jocelyn Epstein said...

Why did you choose that book? Do you think the available translations aren't good enough? Or are you simply eager to experience the translation of his book yourself?

Best wishes,
Brett

Anonymous said...

I read it a long time ago. I am not a professional translator but I always thought it lost almost everything in English, from first sentence to last. It's a powerful book in French. (Just read today that GWB is reading it this summer! I can't process that.)

Brett Jocelyn Epstein said...

Thank you for your comment! It would be interesting to know if others who have read it in both French and English (probably not the president) feel the same way. I wonder what made that particular translation bad -- perhaps it felt dated, or sloppy, or missed many of the nuances of the book. Despite not being a professional translator, maybe as a fun project sometime you can work on a new, better translation!

Best wishes,
Brett