flattened and standardized


A novelist is not famous today unless internationally famous, not recognized unless recognized everywhere. Even the recognition extended to him in his home country is significantly increased if he is recognized abroad. The smaller the country he lives in, the less important his language on the international scene, the more this is the case. So if for the moment the phenomenon is only vaguely felt in Anglophile cultures, it is a formidable reality in countries like Holland or Italy. The inevitable result is that many writers, consciously or otherwise, have begun to think of their audience as international rather than national. One can get a sense of the mindset behind this development by considering the changing profile of translation on the one hand and international literary prizes on the other. If a writer is to be projected on to the world stage, his work must be translated into a number of languages. If a certain amount of promotional hype is to be generated around a book, then the publisher will make sure that these translations are commissioned and completed in a number of territories more or less simultaneously and prior to the publication of the book in its country of origin. In this way the novel can be launched worldwide, something that increases its profile in each separate territory. Translation thus becomes an all-important part of the initial promotion of a novel, which may well find fewer readers in its original language than in its many translations. Yet translators are becoming less rather than more visible. Few readers will be aware who translates their favourite foreign novelist, even though that person will have a huge influence on the tone and feel of every page.

more from Tim Parks at the TLS here.