Friday, March 18, 2016

From excellent to pretty poor …

… The Translation Paradox by Tim Parks | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

How much, or how little, did the polish, or lack of it, of the various renderings matter? James Wood in The New Yorker speaks of Stuart Woolf’s translation of If This Is a Man as “fine,” despite all the evident problems I laid out in my earlier article (though he does go on to criticize Michael Moore, rightly, for translating avventura as “ordeal” in The Drowned and the Saved). James Marcus, in Harper’s, himself a translator, speaks of Goldstein in her editorial responsibility as having “finessed” the work of the different translators, entirely accepting her claim to have created a “consistent” tone and quality. True, he goes on, in a footnote, to point out a couple of embarrassing errors, and then in a separate blog post discusses further errors, all lexical, all from Goldstein and Woolf. But never the very evident problems of style. In general his whole attitude, like that of most other reviewers—indeed of most other reviews of any major work in translation—was one of automatic congratulation. Chunks of Levi are quoted in various publications, often with embarrassing infelicities, and nothing is said.

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