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Coetzee on translation

In a rather long-winded essay by J.M. Coetzee, republished on The Weekend Australian website, the author, whose books have been translated into 25 languages, writes of the trials and tribulations of translation. The article, which features detailed discussions between Coetzee and some of his many translators, is only a must-read for his fans, but the essay raises a few questions about conceptual intricacies that cannot be translated. There is, for example, no word in Serbian that means the same as “author” or “writer” in English, which is renders difficult the translation of a book like Foe, which holds as central the concept of authorship. But it’s the mistakes of translation that are most amusing to read of. He writes, “in the Italian version of Dusklands, a man opens a wooden crate with the help of a bird (what I wrote was that he used a crow, that is, a crowbar).”

Thanks to MaudNewton.com for the link.

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Click here for the Coetzee essay