Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why Translation Matters

I'm in the midst of reading Edith Grossman's Why Translation Matters. Grossman has translated Garcia Marquez as well as Don Quixote. Reading her book has got me thinking once again at my own attempt at translating. Well, actually, okay, my own attempt at translating has been the itch at the back of my brain for the past two and a half years. Grossman's just scratched the itch.

In terms of translation theory, the book doesn't add anything too new. It's not a theory book at all, but rather her reflection on the act of translating and the sorry way translation is viewed and translators treated by both publishers and reviewers.

I particularly enjoyed reading about her insecurities and uncertainties when approaching Cervantes. She admits to using a dictionary and Google to find words she didn't know, which eased my mind about occasionally using Perseus to decode obscure words. She had much the same questions with Don Quixote I had and still have when dealing with Suppliants in terms of how to translate not just words but facts and figures a modern audience wouldn't get at first glance.

She simply put a lot of footnotes in. But how do you put footnotes into a play? I guess I could take a wacked out Brechtian trip and have the footnotes projected on a screen. Lame? That's lame, isn't it?

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