“How can one compare a biography from the 1700s written in Ge’ez, to a French play from the 1960s, to a contemporary Korean novel? How can one assess the quality of a translation without access to the source text? The selection process forced me to articulate what I think makes a good translation – and in the end, good translation is good writing. Ultimately, the best translations expand the possibilities of the English language: they take something unconventional and make it beautiful.”
Two months ago I interviewed Sarah Death, the translator of Willful Disregard by Lena Andersson, one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. In our newest issue of Front Porch Journal, I wrote a review of it as well. Check it out here.
Also, holy crap I overused the word “while” in that piece. Thankfully, I have editing permissions…
“To be more explicit, I’m talking about compensation, often discussed in translation circles. I try to compensate by imitating the author’s style where possible. For example, if he’s used alliteration in a passage, I might not be able to replicate it at that exact same point, but I hope to get it in somewhere.”