is for Xenophile. Look it up.

I like British writers. I’ve said this before. This may make me a xenophile. Canadian authors are ok, but I find Canadian literature tends to the depressive side. This is not always true, but there are some writers from Canada who probably mostly wrote during the winter, when the lack of sun influenced their mood. Just saying.

I enjoy reading books in translation, but I recognize that anytime a work of literature is translated into English, something happens to the book. Different translators have different ways of rendering a book or poem or whatever into English. The translation of a literary work is in itself a literary act, one could argue. In theology this can be seen in the variety of Bible translations that exist and the enormous amount of heat and light generated by people arguing over which English translation is superior. Each translation has a slightly different theory of translation and usually has a large number of scholars working on it. Then look at serious Bible commentaries, which usually contain the commentator’s English translation of the original text. It is fascinating what divergences are possible over rendering the same Greek or Hebrew text into another language. Fascinating. Since such variance can be seen in the multiple English translations of the Bible, it will probably also be the case that different English translators of (say) Tolstoy will provide slightly different versions of a book in English. INteresting. How does one decide which one to read?

Do you read books in translation? How do you decide which translation to read if multiple options are available? Or do you pick the one in the course text list because that is the only time you read literature in translation — for a course?

In other news, I finished The Great Divorce. Huh, I wonder why I’ve never read that before. Really good and really interesting. If you haven’t read that particular C.S. Lewis work, go and do that now. It’ll take you an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the interruptions around you. Totally worth it.

For those of you wondering what will happen after I hit Z in the current series, worry not. I have it figured out. All will be revealed on Ash Wednesday, the day I post about Z. Tune in then for the next Backlist series announcement.


1 Comment

Filed under What to Read Next

One response to “eXcellent

  1. jon

    A friend of mine (who’s retired and loves books) has mentioned to me that Dostoevsky is said to be better in translation – that his brilliance involved the plot, characters, ideas in his novels, but his use of the Russian language wasn’t his strong suit. I have no idea whether this is true. Since my friend tends to repeat his stories these days, he repeats this ‘fact’ about Dostoevsky being better in translation once every 4 or 5 months. I think he likes the shock value of it. 🙂

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