coetzee on translation


(via bookninja)

BOOKS of mine have been translated from the English in which they are written into some 25 other languages, the majority of them European. Of the 25 I can read two or three moderately well. Of many of the rest I know not a word; I have to trust my translators to render fairly what I have written.

Whether that trust is well placed I find out only rarely, when a bilingual reader who has compared translation with original happens to report back to me.

Some such reports come as a jolt. In Russia, I discover, The Master of Petersburg has been renamed Autumn in Petersburg; in the Italian version of Dusklands, a man opens a wooden crate with the help of a bird (what I wrote was that he used a crow, that is, a crowbar).

more from The Weekend Australian here.