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Mouse or Rat?: Translation as Negotiation
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Mouse or Rat?: Translation as Negotiation

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  170 ratings  ·  8 reviews
'Translation is always a shift, not between two languages but between two cultures. A translator must take into account rules that are not strictly linguistic but, broadly speaking, cultural.' Umberto Eco is of the world's most brilliant and entertaining writers on literature and language. In this accessible and dazzling study, he turns his eye on the subject of translatio ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Orion Publishing Co. (first published 2003)
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Wesley  Gerrard
This book is a collection of essays on the topic of translation. It is constantly exploring the role of the translator as a negotiator is the way he interprets texts for his target audience. Eco points towards an underlying perfect language that writer uses which transcends the individual tongues a work may be written in. What duty does the translator have in presenting an author's true thoughts? The examples are plentiful and obviously abound from a man with a great deal of real-life experience ...more
Absolutely loved this book. A plus if you can read & speak English, French, German, Italien and Spanish. Litteral translation from one language to the other: hilarious!
This is a subject I just find endlessly fascinating.

Eco's theme in this book is that translation (particularly literary translation) is a "negotiation" between what you might call the 'letter' and the 'spirit' of the original. For example, the book's title refers to Eco's attempt to translate the scene in Hamlet where Hamlet stabs Polonius behind a curtain, saying "How now? A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!".

Eco says he translated 'rat' as 'topo', which in Italian actually means mouse, because the
David Scarratt
I always find Eco entertaining. This series of lectures is no exception, with obscure facts, erudite games, and arcane anecdotes a-plenty. However, it seemed to me to lack coherence. Even though the core idea -- translation as negotiation -- is mentioned in each chapter, it is never developed to any significant extent. It is not clear to me how Eco intends to cash his metaphor -- as, clearly, negotiation with "the unique voice of the original author in the text" is to be taken figuratively. Nego ...more
Luba Ulybysheva
At times quite witty it acquires rather a dry tone towards the end and reads more like a text-book. I couldn't help thinking that I would have enjoyed it much more if i had a sufficient knowledge of German and French ( the author quotes large chunks of different literary works, including his own, in different languages for the reader to compare).
I think in the future I will stick to his fiction, which I find far more enthralling.
Translation theory from the point of you of a translated writer. It does give a different perspective, although I got lost in poetry in Italian. Literary translation can be quite a challenge when you have to deal with such an erudite author, but translators can negotiate their way through it.
I read this while living abroad, and really kind of fell in love with him as a result. He is so charming and friendly. Too bad the next book of his I tried to read cover-to-cover was Foucault's Pendulum.
My review of this book is just the same as "Experiences in Translation" by Eco, only the stars are different. And frankly, no one cares!
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Umberto Eco is an Italian writer of fiction, essays, academic texts, and children's books, and certainly one of the finest authors of the twentieth century. A professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, Eco’s brilliant fiction is known for its playful use of language and symbols, its astonishing array of allusions and references, and clever use of puzzles and narrative inventions. His per ...more
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