Perhaps no other vocation is as misunderstood and, consequently, as de-valued as that of the translator. Really, what does a translator do apart from attempting a semiotic equivalence across two languages and, quite often, failing gloriously at the task she has set for herself?
But translators do some incredibly complex and creative work. As Edith Grossman argues in her seminal book Why Translation Matters:
“The unique factor in the experience of translators is that we not only are listeners to the text, hearing the author’s voice in the mind’s ear, but speakers of a second text—the translated work—who repeat what we have heard, though in another language, a language with its own literary tradition, its own cultural accretions, its own lexicon and syntax, its own historical experience, all of which must be treated with as much respect, esteem, and appreciation as we bring to the language of the original writer. ”
We ask, dear reader, that you read the translations we present to you with an awareness not just of their narrative richness but also of the work of their co-creators. That “shadow” figure of the translator, that person back stage has made a series of creative, craft-related decisions so we can experience the pleasure of reading a text in a language we do not know. And indeed, isn’t translation in itself an act of kindness?