Gail Armstrong recounts a variety of interactions between authors and translators, ranging from open hostility to endless love. (The former, of course, makes for better reading.) She opens with this classic quote: “When told by a reader that his stories read better in French, James Thurber replied, ‘Yes, I tend to lose something in the original.'” I recommend the whole entry. And I have to say that if I, like Alan Bennett, were to receive these queries from my translator:
‘For a long time I used to go to bed early.’ This Proust quote, where?
Ivy-Compton-Burnett: who or what is that?
I would tell the publisher to find another translator.
My favorite anecdote from my own professional career is when I had to use all my powers of persuasion to change a proposed Spanish translation of Christmas disease as “enfermedad de Navidad.” (The disease was named for Stephen Christmas, who suffered from it.)