Wonderful book review that becomes a thoughtful piece on translation.
Translators do a very hard job, and are often underappreciated. We take them for granted. Yet they perform a very important function, expressing something from one language into another, switching contexts skilfully. If I stay with the original theme of translation in literature, it’s heartening to see that there are many instances of good translations about nowadays. Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X is a classic recent example. A superb book, superbly translated by Alexander Smith. We are privileged to live in a time when books written in one language in one country are so readily available in others, and in relatively short order.
Talking about translation, my father did something strange. He bought himself a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo in the original French, along with a French-to-English dictionary, and proceeded to “reverse-engineer” the book, teaching himself French in the process. He claimed he still had the French book with all his jottings, but we could not find it. I do remember finding a green cloth-bound version in English, with gilt lettering on the spine; I hope one of my siblings still has that book.
We continue to learn about how we learn.
- ‘Salvation of a Saint’ by Keigo Higashino (kimbofo.typepad.com)
- Book Review – The Devotion of Suspect X (greatnorthernsea.wordpress.com)
- Profile (pluiepoco.wordpress.com)
- Adam Thirlwell on five of the best translations of translations (telegraph.co.uk)