Tell us a little bit about yourself. I grew up in Scotland but left age sixteen and never really made it back. I lived in Mexico City for about twelve years, and now live in Berlin. I’m a freelance translator from Spanish and French into English.
When you were growing up, what books had an impact on you? In my teens, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy; the John Wyndham novels; most of Orwell; Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian; Calvino’s Invisible Cities; Claudio Magris’ ADifferent Sea – this last one changed the bearing of my life.
Why do you translate? I believe translation underlies all communication, both within and between languages. Language is what makes us most distinctively human, and translation is a celebration of that, insofar as it makes all humans intelligible to each other, bringing different life-worlds into proximity. Translators are walkers-between-worlds.
December: a time of merry abandon, or seasonal reflection? Our round up of eclectic reads to delight and inspire you takes in both . . . Happy Christmas! Georgia @bookblast
Black swans, white cygnets
Behind the Scenes at the Ballets Russes: Stories from a Silver Ageby Michael Meylac (Ed.) translated by Rosanna Kelly (I. B. Tauris) illustrated with over 70 B/W photographs buy here
The Ballets Russes remains the most iconic ballet company of the twentieth century. Its dancers Nijinksy, Karsavina and Pavlova have become the stuff of legend. Inspired by the unique vision of the touring company’s founder, Sergei Diaghilev; the artistry of stage designer Alexandre Benois; and the spectacular costumes created by Bakst, the company gained a large international following. The list of Diaghilev’s artistic collaborators are a roll-call of some of the 20th-century’s greatest composers and artists: Stravinsky, Ravel, Satie, Poulenc, de Falla, Picasso, Matisse, Miró, de Chirico – to name but a few.Continue reading BookBlasts® | Top 10 Reads for Independent Minds | December 2017
In a piece for The Swedish Book Review published in 1997, I stated that, “Roughly 3% of the titles published in the UK every year are translations (as opposed to 30-40% in France and Germany).” It is a puzzling paradox that Britain is such a multi-cultural society yet so insular when it comes to ‘foreign’ writers in translation. Especially since book-buyers just want a good story and are not particularly concerned about its provenance.
Dr Jasmine Donahaye’s 2012 survey Three percent? Publishing data and statistics on translated literature in the United Kingdom and Ireland is unequivocal: “Literary translation in the UK and Ireland – whether assessed according to its broader definition or restricted to the genre categories of poetry, fiction and drama – is a little higher than the often-cited 3% figure. Indeed it is consistently greater than 4%, and, over the sample years, consistently increases.”
She gives the following statistics: “The percentage of all publications that are translations: 2.21% in 2000 ; 2.65% in 2005 ; 2.43% in 2008. “The percentage of poetry, fiction and drama that is translation: 4.37% in 2000 ; 4.51% in 2005 ; 4.59% in 2008. “The percentage of all literary genres (the entire 800 Dewey range) that is translation: 4.17% in 2000 ; 4.20% in 2005 ; 4.37% in 2008.”