Dagný's Reviews > Why Translation Matters

Why Translation Matters by Edith Grossman
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Jul 02, 11

Read from September 04, 2010 to July 02, 2011

It has been a while since I read this book and I forgot it on the "currently reading" shelf. I was disappointed in it, not because I don't agree with the polemic, most of it is obviously true although I am not in agreement that a translator is equal with the author! I had hoped for something more subtle or thought provoking, on the one hand more philosophical and on the other more nitty gritty examples. I do not read Spanish so any examples finally offered were lost on me; perhaps I have no right to complain. Issues of translation have always been of interest to me -as I have had to function in other languages than my native one- and I feel very guilty to be negative towards someone doing such important and surely wonderful job. ( Perhaps this is why it lingered on my shelf!)
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by THE (new)

THE What a disappointment. I would have hoped that Grossman's book would have provided some interesting insights into the nuances of language in addition to offering some revelations about the extraordinary authors with whom she has worked, such as Vargas Llosa and Garcia Marquez. Moreover, she recently did a brilliant translation of DON QUIXOTE (Having read other versions as well as sections from the original Spanish, I regard Grossman's version as the best.)

Thanks for your helpful review.


Dagný My review is too stunted, really, as I let time lapse until I almost forgot the book, then felt this obligation to my fellow Goodreaders to part with my opinion. But yes, I had such hopes. I noticed from other reviewers that I am not alone in my disappointment; this is a case of Grossman "preaching to the chorus" and the the chorus seems to have have bought a ticket to the concert hall, expecting different inspiration. I take your words for that she is a brilliant translator.

Judith and I have been back and forth about giving negative reviews to a writer we have some sort of essential liking/respect for; I clam up, she does not and feels that to criticize is more respectful (I tell her that her professional attorney training allows that) Your kind and gracious remarks also show there are many ways to respond to someone's efforts.


message 3: by THE (new)

THE Thanks for your amiable words. I am probably in Judith's camp on negative reviews, although I try not to be too unkind (with a couple of notorious exceptions that brought the wrath of some readers). Since I try to provide some detailed reasons for my criticism, including examples and literary context, I never mind opposing perspectives as long as they are not feckless, foolish, or foul.

In any case, I always enjoy the "savory" reviews that you and Judith prepare, which I regard as food for thought!


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