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Resources and Links > 50 outstanding translations from the last 50 years

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message 1: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy (jimmylorunning) | 140 comments Mod
From http://www.societyofauthors.org/50-ou...


1. Raymond Queneau – Exercises in Style (Barbara Wright, 1958)
2. Primo Levi – If This is a Man (Stuart Woolf, 1959)
3. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa – The Leopard (Archibald Colquhoun, 1961)
4. Günter Grass – The Tin Drum (Ralph Manheim, 1962)
5. Jorge Luis Borges – Labyrinths (Donald Yates, James Irby, 1962)
6. Leonardo Sciascia – Day of the Owl (Archibald Colquhoun, 1963)
7. Alexander Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Ralph Parker, 1963)
8. Yukio Mishima – Death in Midsummer (Seidensticker, Keene, Morris, Sargent, 1965)
9. Heinrich Böll – The Clown (Leila Vennewitz, 1965)
10. Octavio Paz – Labyrinth of Solitude (Lysander Kemp, 1967)
11. Mikhail Bulgakov – The Master and Margarita (Michael Glenny, 1969)
12. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – 100 Years of Solitude (Gregory Rabassa, 1970)
13. Walter Benjamin – Illuminations (Harry Zohn, 1970)
14. Paul Celan – Poems (Michael Hamburger and Christopher Middleton, 1972)
15. Bertolt Brecht – Poems (John Willett, Ralph Manheim, Erich Fried, et al 1976)
16. Michel Foucault – Discipline and Punish (Alan Sheridan, 1977)
17. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie - Montaillou (Barbara Bray, 1978)
18. Italo Calvino – If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller (William Weaver, 1981)
19. Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida (Richard Howard, 1981)
20. Christa Wolf – A Model Childhood (Ursule Molinaro, Hedwig Rappolt, 1982)
21. Umberto Eco – The Name of the Rose (William Weaver, 1983)
22. Mario Vargas Llosa – Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (Helen R. Lane, 1983)
23. Milan Kundera – The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Michael Henry Heim, 1984)
24. Marguerite Duras – The Lover (Barbara Bray, 1985)
25. Josef Skvorecky – The Engineer of Human Souls (Paul Wilson, 1985)
26. Per Olov Enquist – The March of the Musicians (Joan Tate, 1985)
27. Patrick Süskind – Perfume (John E. Woods, 1986)
28. Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits (Magda Bodin, 1986)
29. Georges Perec – Life A User’s Manual (David Bellos, 1987)
30. Thomas Bernhard – Cutting Timber (Ewald Osers, 1988)
31. Czeslaw Milosz – Poems (Czeslaw Milosz, Robert Hass, 1988)
32. José Saramago – Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (Giovanni Pontiero, 1992)
33. Marcel Proust – In Search of Lost Time (Terence Kilmartin, 1992)
34. Roberto Calasso – The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (Tim Parks, 1993)
35. Naguib Mahfouz – Cairo Trilogy (William M. Hutchins, Lorne M. Kenny, Olive E. Kenny, Angele Botros Samaan, 1991-3)
36. Laura Esquivel – Like Water for Chocolate (Carol Christensen and Thomas Christensen, 1993)
37. Bao Ninh – The Sorrow of War (Frank Palmos, Phan Thanh Hao, 1994)
38. Victor Klemperer – I Shall Bear Witness (Martin Chalmers, 1998)
39. Beowulf (Seamus Heaney, 1999)
40. Josef Brodsky – Collected Poems (Anthony Hecht et al, 2000)
41. Xingjian Gao – Soul Mountain (Mabel Lee, 2001)
42. Tahar Ben Jelloun – This Blinding Absence of Light (Linda Coverdale, 2002)
43. W.G. Sebald – Austerlitz (Anthea Bell, 2002)
44. Orhan Pamuk – Snow (Maureen Freely, 2004)
45. Amos Oz – A Tale of Love and Darkness (Nicholas de Lange, 2004)
46. Per Petterson – Out Stealing Horses (Ann Born, 2005)
47. Irène Némirovsky – Suite Française (Sandra Smith, 2006)
48. Vassily Grossman – Life and Fate (Robert Chandler, 2006)
49. Alaa Al Aswany – The Yacoubian Building (Humphrey Davies, 2007)
50. Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky, 2007)


message 2: by Geoff (last edited Mar 12, 2013 11:19AM) (new)

Geoff | 4 comments Sweet! Thanks. I've read 1, 5, 7, 11, 12, 13, 18, 29, 31, 33, 40, and 50, and many more are on my physical shelves and the "soon to read mental queue"...


message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael | 13 comments I have read: 1, 5, 11, 12, 18, 21, 23, 27, 32, 33, 41, 49... But I wonder whether these are just famous books or if they are great translations?


message 4: by Geoff (new)

Geoff | 4 comments thegift wrote: "I have read: 1, 5, 11, 12, 18, 21, 23, 27, 32, 33, 41, 49... But I wonder whether these are just famous books or if they are great translations?"

I think "great translations" as acts of translation, which is probably why Exercises In Style is #1.


message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael | 13 comments I guess I wonder: how can we tell if we are mono linguists? Maybe the work is improved or diminished, from earlier posts someone was comparing two translations of Murakami Haruki, I could read the difference but which one is closer to his accent/intention is not clear...


message 6: by Jon (new)

Jon Ciliberto | 6 comments Lady Murasaki - The Tale of Genji (Royall Tyler, 2001).


message 7: by Robert (new)

Robert Wechsler | 8 comments This list clearly comes from authors, not translators. One need only get to #4 to realize this: Manheim's translation of The Tin Drum has been surpassed by Breon Mitchell's translation, which came out in 2010. In many cases, a translator's best translation is overlooked for the most famous book he or she translated. There are a lot of fine books here, and a lot of fine translations, but it's not the 50 best translations.


message 8: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy (jimmylorunning) | 140 comments Mod
Robert: that was my initial reaction as well. But I figured I'd post it just to see what others thought. It's at least good for debate.


message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael | 13 comments How do publishers decide to create a new translation? I think of all those individual-volume translations of Proust that came out years ago, and whether this replaces ?Moncrief...


message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert Wechsler | 8 comments thegift, there are many reasons why publishers decide to do new translations of classics. One is that classics sell better than new novels in translation. One is that old translations age worse than old literature. Another is that when classics are first translated, they're not classics and, therefore, they're often translated quickly by mediocre translators. In addition, later translators have the benefit of decades of criticism and all the other works by the same author. They can understand the work more deeply. Occasionally, a work is retranslated because it's going into the public domain and the publisher wants to take advantage of a new edition of the original (as with Kafka). Sometimes an author wants his early work re-translated (as with Grass's The Tin Drum).


On the whole, literary translation has improved in the U.S. The best translators have a great understanding of what they're translating and they write beautifully in English. The problem is that many editors don't sufficiently appreciate literary translation, or aren't willing to pay enough, so some translations of classics are not superior to the old. For more of my ideas on literary translation, download a free PDF of my book Performing Without a Stage: The Art of Literary Translation (Catbird, 1998).


message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael | 13 comments Thanks, will check it out.


message 12: by Stujallen (new)

Stujallen allen | 19 comments Great list shame no wynne translation here maybe atomised , as for question about why books get retranslated I generally think two reasons one the translations hasn't aged well say with tin drum which does feel of its time which is maybe why they commissioned the new translation and other is that the translation is just poor or cut vital parts of the book perfect example would be Nada


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