‘I used to tell my students in translation courses that in preparing to translate a writer they could never know enough about the writer’s culture. But looking at the writing coming out of Europe now, I’m not so sure. Now I ask myself: What other culture? Or, what other culture? A creeping homogenization is developing in prose fiction, a kind of generic international content and style that transcends national borders.’
Found via one of the translation blogs I read, an interesting set of notes from a panel discussion in Germany on how a changing European culture, becoming increasingly similar in its cultural references and brands affects the work of a translator and how the text is perceived by its original and (potentially) future ones.
There’s lots to spark discussion in there but this caught my eye particularly:
‘A recent book on translation notes that since the 1960s there has been a steep decline in the number of English-language poets and prose writers who do translations in addition to their own writing.’
It’s exceedingly rare to see a ‘translated by’ name on a UK book jacket that isn’t a dedicated translator’s and the only obvious books I’ve read by an author/translator are Dorothy L Sayers gloriously poetic version of The Divine Comedy and Seamus Heaney’s wonderful version of Beowulf.
Perhaps it just isn’t possible when the book market increases its pace and appetite every year? I wonder what the English book scene would be like though if more of our authors worked on foreign texts occasionally and read in other languages?