Archives for the month of: August, 2013

We’re not really going to play a game, but I do want to talk about King’s College’s very cool project called “Translation Games“.

Translation Games is a research exhibit on the interactivity of the art of translation. Led by Ricarda Vidal (King’s College) and Jenny Chamarette (Queen Mary), this exhibit uses one piece of literary text as a catalyst for multiple translational interpretations. The opening was a July 31st and the exhibit has been open up until August 2.

Though the exhibit was in England, and I clearly couldn’t make it, I applaud those who participated, especially with the variety of ideas about translation that were showcased.

A bit of backstory, the Games exhibit had a literary text that was made available to the public; those who participated could interpret the piece as they saw fit. Within the fields of translation varied: translation via text, textile, video, or various forms of artwork were submitted. Like our version of Telephone (the brits call it “Chinese Whispers, oddly enough), each individual bases their interpretation on the one that precedes them.

For the “Translation Games”, two chains of Telephone were created: one in which the source text would be translated into various languages, one by one, and another chain in where textile designers and artists would base their work on the already translated text from the previous chain.

What I find most valuable about this project is it’s representation of translation. As I stated in an earlier post, translation today is moving gradually into the spotlight of theoretical and academic discussions. Its role in literature and particularly in the idea of multiculturalism is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Translation does not necessarily mean a transference of ideas from one language (or mode of communication) to another, but something more nuanced and varied. German theorist and literary critic Walter Benjamin (who also worked as a translator) believed translation should be more like a transparent sliding door; the work should have no hint of translation whatsoever and should in fact slide from one language to another without garnering attention from the reader. This idea takes the importance of literary scholarship quite literally… the work triumphs over language. Yet, today many translators and writers believe a translation should reflect not only the translators own thoughts and style, but also that of the culture and language it is being translated into.

“Translation Games” is taking that idea and running with it. A piece of work, whether literary or art, can only progress through translation (of course, only if the translators fully grasp and understand both the source and target cultures/languages).

My ideas are not yet fully formed… currently I am reading “In Translation: Translators on their work and what it means” by two of the most influential and present translators in the academic and literary world today, Susan Bernofsky (translates German) and Esther Allen (Spanish and French). This anthology on translation has essays from authors and translators who have devoted much of their careers to this field. It’s definitely worth a read!

Bravo to those at King’s College and Queen Mary’s for displaying a new focus on the art of translation!


I’ve been traveling all over the place these last few months and now that I’m getting settled I thought I’d revisit this lil’ ol’ blog of mine.

A quick update on where I’ve been so far: 


See? Quick. Now to the reason why I’m really here…

I’ve found some new sites floating around the Internet that I think are pretty good intros into world literature (one of my favorite topics of all time). I’m learning more and more about translation work and the world it’s created within the literary universe. It seems literary translation is gaining some well-deserved attention in publishing and book-selling circles. In particular, translators and authors are voicing their opinions about the importance of international publications, as well as the vital need for literary communication between cultures and languages all over.

Here’s a list of some blogs and online magazines dedicated to publishing today and in particular, translation. 

  • What I love about Words without Borders is their dedication to both international writers and translators. Periodically the site is updated with new poetry, essays and literary works from various places on the map, devoting space and time to writers who as of yet have had little to no voice in the American literary scene. Along with updating their site, WWB also publishes print editions that focus on the work of non-English speaking writers. Concerning the translators, the site places just as much attention on their ideas and interpretations as on the writers themselves.
  • Publishing Trendsetter interviews young people who have found a place within publishing, as well as authors and other contributors. I particularly like their top 5 lists. It’s a useful site for anyone interested in getting involved in publishing, or wanting to learn more about it.
  • Authors & Translators. This is such a fun website! The founder of the site, Cristina Vezzaro, is a translator herself who works with Italian authors. She created the blog to bring to light the very present relationship between authors and their translators. The site is full of interviews of authors from a multitude of language backgrounds who answer questions about working with translators and the necessity of the profession. Another great blogger listed her as a close friend and wrote a bit about the project here. The blog has grown organically, with translators and authors taking the reins and answering the question proposed by the site.
  • World Literature Today has insightful interviews and clever essays devoted to understanding the cultures and languages that make up world literature. It is a both online and published journal.
  • I like reading Publishing Perspectives; they are pretty devoted to finding the latest trends in publishing. Their articles range from e-publishing, translation, the state of bookstores and publishing companies, etc.
  • The Free Word Centre is located in London and devotes a large part of the site to promoting events across the pond, but it’s still great to find out how other non-American literary groups approach the various new difficulties in author and literacy promotion.

Check some of these out and let me know what you think!