I had meant to blog this back in March, when it appeared in the NY Times, but forgot; fortunately, it was reprinted in the International Herald Tribune, where it is still online, so I can tell you about it now, complete with link. A review by Geoffrey Wheatcroft of The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans includes the following biting remarks on translation:
Writing in a self-confident tone, Evans has a few quirks, like translating every turn of phrase, even those in common currency.
There may be something to be said for rendering Führer as “leader,” but the baffling “struggle for culture” turns out to refer not to some worthy artistic aspirations but to what is well-known in English and German as the Kulturkampf, Bismarck’s repressive campaign against the Roman Catholic Church. And to translate the names of newspapers – Frankfurt News for Frankfurter Zeitung, Berlin Daily News-Sheet for Berliner Tageblatt, Racial Observer for Völkischer Beobachter – is just silly. At one point Evans cites a contemporary article from The New York Times. A German historian might well do the same, but he would call it The New York Times, and not translate it into Die Neuyorker Zeiten.
“Silly” is perhaps too mild; I prefer “bizarre.” Just another example of the havoc wreaked by the inflated egos of overbearing writers who refuse to listen to their editors.