Taking Flight: New Thinking On World Writing

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    A Global Translation Initiative Reportby English PEN and Free Word

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    Taking FlightA Global Translation Initiative Report

    by English PEN and Free Word

    The Global Translation Initiative (GTI) is a collaborativeresearch project that aims to identify perceivedbarriers to literary translation, to explore successfulmodels of best practice, to celebrate achievementand to establish ways of building infrastructure forliterary translation across the anglophone world.

    International Translation Day and the LiteraryTranslation Centre at the London Book Fair areimportant staging posts for the discussion ofGTI-related topics, which range from practicalissues such as education, funding and training forliterary translation, to wider cultural concerns suchas literary translation in review media, the role ofliterary festivals, the translation of minority languages

    and intercultural understanding.

    Other GTI publications

    The GTI survey, Research into Barriers to Translationand Best Practices, was published by DalkeyArchive Press in 2011. Available onlinewww.dalkeyarchive.com

    The GTI interim report, Flying off the Shelves, waspublished by English PEN and Free Word in 2011.Available online www.englishpen.org

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    Foreword

    If we value literature at all, we know the worth of literary

    translation. If we want language to be as subtle and

    supple and layered and resonant as language can be, we

    know the worth and the work and the subtlety of literary

    translation. If we care at all about looking beyond ourback yard and our own dominant narratives, we know

    the worth, the work, the open border, open mind, open

    eyes and ears of literary translation. If we belong to a

    culture which rates the word literary, we know the value,

    the scope, the touchstone, the creativity, the generosity

    that exist in this fusion of literary and translation.

    If we consider the tiny percentage of translated literary

    works published, compared to everything else in the UKs

    literary publishing output every year, well be entitled

    to feel sober, ashamed, cheated, excluded from whole

    worlds. If we work against this, well be a lot richer, in

    the end, when it comes to world and worlds.

    If we recognise that a country, in all its history and all

    its contemporaneity, can be seen, revealed, understood

    by recourse to its literature; and if we can see that all

    human languages belong to and with each other, exist

    in the one huge borderless country of language; then

    its obvious even just at a glance: the importance of, the

    excitingness of, the fertility of and the imperative in, the

    act of literary translation.

    Ali Smith

    Foreword 1

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    Anything to declare?

    Yes, we have!

    2

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    This is the final report of the Global Translation

    Initiative. Taking Flight: New Thinking on World

    Writing brings together a series of 18 short essays

    from professionals that are keen to declare the

    value of literary translation. Concerned with the

    relatively small amount of literature available in

    translation across the anglophone world, our

    contributors consider obstacles facing literary

    translation and tell us why they believe we

    deserve better.

    The essays in this report have been arranged in

    three sections to reflect three types of value that

    we associate with literary translation cultural,

    professional and commercial. There are many

    instances where these classifications overlap,

    but they provide a useful framework as we begin

    to measure this value.

    We declare that literary translation brings greatvalue in the following ways...

    Helps us tounderstand thechanging world

    Promotes sharedvalues

    Regenerates

    literary sourcesRevitaliseslanguage

    Revitalisesliterature

    Allows us to readthe best of the best

    Provides a valuableteaching tool

    Develops newreaders and

    writersDevelops newmarkets

    Contributes toeconomic growth

    Introduction 3

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    Understanding thechanging world

    Engaging our senses with the cultural exports ofanother country enables us to understand not only

    the world as it is now, but also the shared history thatbrought us here. The world is constantly changing.Advances in digital technology, for example, meanthat we can access writing from around the world atthe touch of a button, but what is it actually like to bea blogger in a country like China or Iran? Nasrin AlavisWe Are Iran captures the writing and experiences ofa young generation of Farsi bloggers, which opensour eyes to their thoughts on revolution, censorship,women and even fashion.

    Translated books haveprofoundly shaped ourcultural perspective overthe past half centuryJon Parrish Peede

    Awaiting News at the Dock

    A healthy landscape ofliterary translation can

    produce a healthy levelof awareness withoutbordersJulian Evans

    A Brief History of Intercultural Awareness

    We like to nd books thattell us of worlds we do notknow, or have forgottenPeter StothardTranslation, Reviewed

    Promoting sharedvalues

    By conveying human rights issues, the experiencesof the marginalised, and elements of common

    humanity, translation encourages a greaterunderstanding between different communities andcultures. Whether its Anna Politkovskayas PutinsRussia or Antoine de Saint-Exuprys Petit Princethat awakens your empathy, its incredibly importantthat we have access to these stories and experienceliterature beyond the borders of representation of ourown countries, or worlds.

    Translation increasesreaders awareness of

    shared human emotionand experienceGeoffrey Taylor

    Found in Translation

    Literature in translationis essential to an informedtransnational dialogueDavid Shook

    Translator Prole

    Translation createsrelations between writersand readers that dissolvenot only literary barriers,but barriers of economics,politics, nationalism and

    cultural materialismJulian EvansA Brief History of Intercultural Awareness

    You may be interested in thefollowing pieces:

    Many Languages, One Literature,Namita Gokhale

    A Small Country in the South Pacic,Jean Anderson

    Important and useful,Polly McLean

    Translation and Reciprocity,Ivor Indyk

    You may be interested in thefollowing pieces:

    Many Languages, One Literature,Namita Gokhale

    Go Dutch!,Mireille BermanFound in Translation,Geoffrey Taylor

    Awaiting News at the Dock,Jon Parrish Peede

    4

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    Regeneratingliterary sources

    The power to renew the literary impact of a work isnot restricted to new translations of classic authors

    like Tolstoy or Zola. The fortunes of The ReaderbyBernhard Schlink were transformed by its translationfrom German to English and its exposure to a newaudience. In Germany, Schlink was considered to bea crime writer, and The Readerlabelled soft on theNazis. It was on the back of the translation of thenovel that its adaptation for lm was commissioned,sparking great commercial success. Translationallows literature to travel, meaning writers can speakout across generations and cultures.

    Translation fromGreek into Latin morethan 2,000 years ago wasthe starting point for thecritical canon, for whatwe have traditionallyrecognised as literatureat allPeter Stothard

    Translation, Reviewed

    Revitalisinglanguage

    Translated work can enrich and benet the languageinto which it is translated, bringing new terms and

    ideas with it. Each interpretation of a text is a revivalof language and imagery; a new setting thoughwhich we frame our understanding. By exploring andexperiencing different cultures through literature, webuild our capacity to articulate the world around usin fresh and exciting ways.

    Words and phrases thatwe are most frequentlytouched by trickle into our

    daily use: words like djvu, orang-utan, assassinand doppelgngerGeoffrey Taylor

    Found in Translation

    Translations of GarcaMrquezs One HundredYears of Solitude

    revitalised readers andwriters of English novelsin the 1970s and 1980sPeter Stothard

    Translation, Reviewed

    You may be interested in thefollowing pieces:

    A Brief History of Intercultural Awareness,Julian Evans

    Translator Prole, Maureen FreelyFor Wales: See England,Wiliam Owen Roberts

    You may be interested in thefollowing pieces:

    Many Languages, One Literature,Namita Gokhale

    Translator Prole,Maureen Freely

    Introduction 5

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    Revitalisingliterature

    Having more books in translation encourages usto experiment with our own literature. It can inspire

    anglophone writers to reach beyond their niche;to learn from the literary techniques, languageand concepts of other cultures. Salman Rushdieplayfully explores the borders between Hindi andEnglish in Midnights Children, drawing attentionto the absorption of one language and culture intoanother. It is vital that we c