A reader sent me a link to this series of lists of “rules” for literary translators, which I started to read with interest and which I recommend to your attention. When I got to Becka McKay’s list, I was struck by her first “rule”:
1. Make them believe in the necessity of translation. On the first day of the first graduate translation workshop I taught, I gave them Translate This Book!, a remarkable document produced by The Quarterly Conversation consisting of dozens of recommendations by writers of works yet to be translated into English. Peering into that vacuum of inaccessible literature, presented in such a striking way, galvanized many of them into taking the first step.
Naturally, I clicked the link, and immediately was swept away — what a collection of tantalizing descriptions! Some of them I knew about, most I didn’t… and then I got to this:
Tina Kover on Spiridion by George Sand
There is a book I’ve longed to translate for years, a novel called Spiridion by George Sand, which is a far-ahead-of-its-time work about a haunted monastery, an aged monk who is the guardian of handed-down religious secrets, a young, innocent protégé, ghosts emerging from paintings on the ancient walls . . . sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? I haven’t been able to rouse enough interest in any of my publishers yet but I think it has an almost Harry Potter/Da Vinci Code quality that could be very, very successful and appealing to today’s readers if marketed the right way.
That’s the very book I’m in the middle of reading now! And yes, it should definitely be translated; it’s tremendous fun (and was an influence on Dostoevsky, which is why I picked it up — parts of it definitely remind me of the Brothers K). So check out both the translation rules and the translation suggestions, and I thank you for the link, Bruce!