Novels Found in Translation

Editors and writers often quote from translated material, without identifying the translator. Writer J. Peder Zane suggests that the neglect reveals a subconscious embarrassment about readers’ dependence on translations, a nagging doubt that the reading does not provide an authentic experience. Yet only because of translations, the average person can enjoy “Madame Bovary” or “Crime and Punishment.” Zane compares translators to priests, helping readers commune with the literary gods – we depend on their skills even while craving direct contact. For this reason, people prefer to forget the process of translation and the translators themselves. And perhaps this is why less than one percent of all books published in the US are translations. In an age of global cultural exchange, foreign literature offers a way to understand foreign cultures, and the translators are crucial. – YaleGlobal

Novels Found in Translation

J. Peder Zane
Thursday, March 9, 2006

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Staff Writer

© Copyright 2006, The News & Observer Publishing Company

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