Literature in translation
July 20, 2005 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Transcript, published in English, German and French, is a review of European literature and books. (Their double issue on Welsh literature is particularly nice.) Archipelago is another online journal dedicated to literature in translation. And despite persistent troubles with getting World literature translated into English (The Complete Review covers this issue well.), there are many sites with translated literature on the web: Albanian, Arabic Malay and Urdu, Armenian, more Armenian, Bengali, Chinese, Czech and Slovak, Dutch, Hungarian, Korean, Japanese, Pan-African, Polish, Ukranian, Welsh, "World," Yiddish.
posted by OmieWise (10 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
That site seems to be unusable, so how about the Hungarian Electronic Library? They have many works in English, too. (I still prefer the old interface though.)

The Transcript site is very nice. Thanks.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:23 AM on July 20, 2005

More: Words Without Borders and the Center for the Art of Translation.
posted by twsf at 9:06 AM on July 20, 2005

No Portuguese?
posted by Vidiot at 9:53 AM on July 20, 2005

Thanks for the great links, OmieWise. This isn't going to make my day at the office more productive. Thankfully.

You may already know about this, or it may have been covered here before, but a number of publishers, including Dalkey Archive Press and New Directions, have begun a project to promote world literature in translation called Reading the World. The blog Conversational Reading had a brief interview with Chad Post of the Dalkey Archive about RTW back in May, while John O'Brien of the Dalkey Archive has been writing a series of editorials about what he sees as a paucity of "literary" translations in the U.S. (1, 2, 3, 4).

(Incidentally, the last paper I wrote in college was about the various "Omie Wise" songs!)
posted by cobra libre at 10:38 AM on July 20, 2005

cobra libre-It's been a while since I've been to The Center For Book Culture. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

(Is there any chance I could get a look at that paper? I have an obvious interest. Email in profile.)
posted by OmieWise at 12:01 PM on July 20, 2005

cool post, omniewise.
posted by ori at 12:47 PM on July 20, 2005

Wow. This is the best post I've seen in many a moon. I just spent a long time reading and mulling over the gripping Archipelago extract from the memoir of Leon Bell, who was taken to the Soviet Union by his foolish father at thirteen in 1931 ("I find it difficult to understand how grown-ups, and in particular, socialists like my father, can embrace utopias. I find it even more difficult to understand how my father did not pay attention to the ominous signals that were coming out of the Soviet Union"); when his father was arrested in the great purges of 1938, he went to the NKVD to try to get him freed:
I was then nineteen years old, had lived in the Soviet Union for over six years, but obviously still understood very little of some of the most important aspects of Soviet life. I should have known (or maybe at that time many others also did not know) that Valyaev could in no way free my father. That a process had been triggered that was irreversible. The presumption of innocence was not recognized in the Soviet Union, as the main prosecutor of the big political trials had declared explicitly. If a man had been arrested, that meant there was a reason, and the reason was that he was guilty.

Thus, if I had told the man who had made the arrest that he knew his victim was not guilty, I would virtually have accused him of committing a crime. When I told Valyaev that he knew my father was not guilty, he looked at me for a very long time without saying a word and seemed to be thinking something over. After leaving him, I realized what that was: "Should I take this kid also? That will increase the number of arrests, and no one can say that I haven’t been doing my job diligently. After all, in many cases, people of his age have been taken."
And from Transcript, here's one of the three poems by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch:
Part of the Furniture

Since I had him stuffed
and mounted in a glass case,
my husband has truly become
what he always was:
part of the furniture.
Addicted to sitting still and staring
out of the window, now I've made sure
he can do that permanently.
I know he'd thank me for it.
Always wanted to be on display,
in his best waistcoat, the centre
of attention. Suits him: far better
disembowelled than drivelling on.
To show my gratitude, I'll add a link for Thai literature. Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to spend the rest of the day exploring.
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on July 20, 2005

posted by semmi at 5:18 PM on July 20, 2005

Thank you for this, OmieWise!

When I looked closer, I found that most of my favorite literature were either translations into English from another language or written by writers for whom English was not a native language. I'm glad that these works from around in the world are made even more accessible through translation, that they may be appreciated by even more people.

That said, I'm in the process of teaching myself how to read in another language (Italian) to read its literature in their original form. Technically, English is a second language to me and I learned much of it by reading, and reading good books has made that an immense pleasure. Since I picked up most of my English that way, it makes sense to learn another doing the same!
posted by Lush at 5:57 PM on July 20, 2005

For the first time, I just bookmarked this entire link. Thanks so much, this is awesome.

I myself, someday, i.e. I keep thinking about this whenever I feel like I'm doing nothing substantial, am going to get my Hindi up to par and start translating stories, starting with Premchands Kafan, "The Shroud".

This translation actually seems very good, I just found it, and the story is completely annhilating.
posted by goodglovin77 at 7:09 PM on July 20, 2005

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