postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 9, 2011 - 4:27pm

If only I could read in Spanish, Japanese, Arabic...  I can read in French, well enough to get through the Three Muskateers but not well enough to understand the nuances.

I went on a tear when I discovered Haruki Murakami, and having learned a touch of Japanese, I have to admire the translators for bringing these stories to life in English.

I've been reading a lot of South American authors, Vargas Llosa in particular, and am grateful for the people who make it possible for these stories to travel the world. It can't be easy.

The most incredible and confusing thing I've read in translation is Grabiel Infante's Tres Tristes Tigres (try saying that out loud), translated as Three Trapped Tigers. It is an incredible work of wordplay, and I have no idea how the original compares with the version I read. ("Too many cocks spoil the brothel" for example).

Anyone else?

Raelyn's picture
Raelyn from California is reading The Liars' Club October 10, 2011 - 12:36am

My favorite book that was translated into English from another language is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  It was originally in Portuguese, a language I don't speak, but have discussed how well it was translated with a few people who are native speakers.  Their thoughts were focused on how well the simplicity and tone of the story were translated.  Overall it's one of my favorite novels.  

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 15, 2011 - 1:11pm

It's always good to hear back from someone fluent in both languages. I liked the translation I read of The Alchemist.

I think it's easier (by no means easy) to translate from languages that share a certain common history. English and Germanic languages have the same root language, English and Latin languages have a lot of history (and more than a few words) in common. Japanese to English mystefies me, and I am in awe of those who can do the works justice.

I've heard that Russian translates better into French than into English. I'll have to give that a try once I'm done struggling through Madame Bovary.

I have no idea how anyone can translate poetry, but I guess the translations are works of art in and of themselves.