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Ann Goldstein: A star Italian translator

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Mónica Algazi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 21:11
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
Interesting Feb 6, 2016

I truly liked this article. Thanks for sharing it!

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:11
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Very interesting article! Feb 6, 2016

I particularly liked the fact that she considers translation to be similar to “puzzle-solving”…

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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:11
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
I liked that part Feb 6, 2016

There is a spectrum, among translators, ranging from those who hew very closely to the original to those who take more liberties with the text. Ms. Goldstein leans toward fidelity.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 05:41
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Spoil sport Feb 7, 2016

I don't think she is being felicitated for being a translator, Ann is already a celebrity copy editor, and seems to be a very nice person. She is being felicitated for that.

So, I as a translator, won't feel good on another translator making it good. I don't even agree that she is a translator in the sense we are translators. Her real calling is copy editing.


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DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 00:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
"[she] helped writers polish their sentences until they shined." Feb 7, 2016

I wonder what the copy-editor in her would think of that sentence?

And for a totally different point of view on the opus, see "The prose, in Ann Goldstein's translation, is artless, repetitive, and stale" at https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/neapolitan-nonsense/

Not having read a word of the books, I have no idea which view might be more accurate

[Edited at 2016-02-07 08:57 GMT]


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:11
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Not everyone agrees that she is a "star translator" Feb 8, 2016

As an Italian>English translator, I can't help but agree with Tim Parks's assessment:

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/02/02/long-way-from-primo-levi-translation-truce/


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:11
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Bit rarified Feb 8, 2016

Catherine Bolton wrote:
As an Italian>English translator, I can't help but agree with Tim Parks's assessment:
http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/02/02/long-way-from-primo-levi-translation-truce/

I skim-read that. I think my copy of "The Truce" is Goldstein's translation.

I found it interesting that, based on this article, translation for Parks is an entirely intellectual issue that seems not to take into account any issues outside the microcosm of the translation itself.

For example he comments that the English is frequently rather stilted. Well, when I read the English of more than 50 years ago, whether in books or magazines, I do often find it rather stilted compared to the English of this decade. Could this be a contributory factor? Is Parks reading it out of time rather than in its historical context?

The other point is whether Levi himself or his publishers and editors had any input in the translation. For cultural reasons, my clients lean heavily towards literal translations. Was somebody somewhere leaning on Goldstein to err on the side of the literal? Such things happen in the real world. Disagreement between author and translator is more than a theoretical idea - take the case of WG Sebald in recent times.

As far as I can see - admittedly based on a pretty hasty reading - the potential of constraining external factors is not even admitted as a potential factor by Parks. Maybe it was not an issue in Levi's case, but if he wanted to be even-handed he should have addressed the topic.

Regards
Dan

[Edited at 2016-02-08 09:25 GMT]


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cranium
French to English
+ ...
Three misconceptions perpetuated in the article Feb 8, 2016

Translation is an after-hours pursuit, aside from your day job. Fidelity means sticking as closely as possible to the original (lots of examples in the NY Books article as to how that backfires). And lastly, it's optional to have lived in the country where the language is spoken, even for translating fine literature, apparently.

Perhaps it is suggestive that one of the authors mentioned declined to comment for the WSJ.


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Hege Jakobsen Lepri  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:11
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Bit rarified Feb 9, 2016

Dan Lucas wrote:

Catherine Bolton wrote:
As an Italian>English translator, I can't help but agree with Tim Parks's assessment:
http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/02/02/long-way-from-primo-levi-translation-truce/

I skim-read that. I think my copy of "The Truce" is Goldstein's translation.

I found it interesting that, based on this article, translation for Parks is an entirely intellectual issue that seems not to take into account any issues outside the microcosm of the translation itself.

For example he comments that the English is frequently rather stilted. Well, when I read the English of more than 50 years ago, whether in books or magazines, I do often find it rather stilted compared to the English of this decade. Could this be a contributory factor? Is Parks reading it out of time rather than in its historical context?

The other point is whether Levi himself or his publishers and editors had any input in the translation. For cultural reasons, my clients lean heavily towards literal translations. Was somebody somewhere leaning on Goldstein to err on the side of the literal? Such things happen in the real world. Disagreement between author and translator is more than a theoretical idea - take the case of WG Sebald in recent times.

As far as I can see - admittedly based on a pretty hasty reading - the potential of constraining external factors is not even admitted as a potential factor by Parks. Maybe it was not an issue in Levi's case, but if he wanted to be even-handed he should have addressed the topic.

Regards
Dan

[Edited at 2016-02-08 09:25 GMT]

Goldstein in the cases mentioned by Parks errs on the side of miscomprehension, which is not the the same as "literal."
And Primo Levi is a prime case of a writer who uses a tap of Italian that feels fresh, clear and modern (unlike many, many other writers of his time).
Have to say, after reading Parks' article, I'm really grateful I can read Ferrante in original.

[Edited at 2016-02-09 21:04 GMT]


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:11
English to Spanish
... Feb 9, 2016

Although just newly started, what an interesting thread it already is.

I had no idea who Ann Goldstein is, but I am enjoying enormously the variety of opinions the original article triggered.

Please keep them coming!

[Edited at 2016-02-09 23:34 GMT]


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DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 00:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bye! Feb 10, 2016

Bye!

[Edited at 2016-02-10 19:39 GMT]


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:11
English to Spanish
@DLyons Feb 10, 2016

DLyons wrote:

There's no objective way to evaluate a literary translation. For a mildly amusing difference of opinion see the history of the Wikipedia article on the Nordic Noir translator Ebba Segerberg.


Opinions are by definition not objective. What did you read in my post that made you make such an obvious comment?

As to your reading recommendation, no, thank you. For the time being I am only interested in other opinions (subjective, yes) about the translator who is the subject of this thread.


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Hege Jakobsen Lepri  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:11
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
An interesting take on the "Goldstein phenomenon" Feb 10, 2016

-The Goldstein phenomenon being defined as a when a rather stilted and "unnatural" style in English is praised as a great translation, is to me the most interesting part of Tim Parks' article:

Only about 2 or 3 percent of novels published in the United States are translations, and there is no particular country that publishers are buying from. Aside from very occasional bestsellers—Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, for example—most of these books are in the more literary area of the market, with small prestigious publishers like Archipelago, which only publishes translations, or New Directions, which publishes a great many, actually making a significant contribution to the overall number of translations coming into the US.

The result—or so I have the impression—is that a certain credit or self-esteem now attaches itself to reading translations; it is something that intelligent, broad-minded people do. Above all, it is understood that the books will be literary and challenging, perhaps with something of their exotic origins still clinging to them.

In short, the American reader of translated novels is predisposed to read a rather different, non-standard English. No one need be anxious that “quintals” or “ankylosed” might force themselves into standard vocabulary; rather, they will remain pleasant curiosities, or perhaps even pretentious markers, catering to a self-consciously “informed” reader of foreign novels.


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cranium
French to English
+ ...
But isn't that a mistaken view? Feb 11, 2016

Hege Jakobsen Lepri wrote:

The Goldstein phenomenon being defined as a when a rather stilted and "unnatural" style in English is praised as a great translation (...) In short, the American reader of translated novels is predisposed to read a rather different, non-standard English.


I wish I could have told my professors that I got docked once for translating "délétère" as "deleterious", which I had read the week before in a near-identical context in The Economist.

Excellent translation should be imperceptible. I forget which Nobel prize winner (Herta Müller?) said she enjoyed reading translations of her own work, to see how the translators solved challenges and sometimes came up with phrasing even more beautiful than the original.

As for"ankylosed", the register is completely off. It was translated as this rare medical term, whereas apparently it is in common, everyday usage. "Stiff" is even the only meaning given in several online dictionaries I just checked.


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ENLITEN  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:11
Member (2015)
Italian to Dutch
+ ...
comment to dan lucas re: input author Feb 12, 2016

"The other point is whether Levi himself or his publishers and editors had any input in the translation."

FYI Levi himself is no longer with us. He committed suicide in 1987. Hence he could not have had any input in Goldstein's translation.


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Ann Goldstein: A star Italian translator

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