Six Days to Go: Quotes about Translators

Six days to go until the conference! To get you excited and inspired, here are some quotes about translators:

“Writers make national literature, while TRANSLATORS make universal literature.” (José Saramago)

TRANSLATORS are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another, who have enabled us to understand that we all, from every part of the world, live in one world.” (Paul Auster)

TRANSLATORS are the closest readers – the ones who pay the most meticulous attention to every shade of meaning of every word. Which often produces embarrassing moments when I realise, years after a book has appeared in English, that there are small mistakes and confusions in the text…” (Emma Donoghue)

“[B]oth when one translates and when one is translated, there is a strong sense that the TRANSLATOR is truly a co-author, part accomplice, part rival, part lover… ” (Claudio Magris)

The TRANSLATOR must be a great editor, a psychologist, a judge of human taste; if not, his translation will be a nightmare. But why should a man with such rare qualities become a translator? Why shouldn’t he be a writer himself, or be engaged in a business where diligent work and high intelligence are well paid? A good TRANSLATOR must be both a sage and a fool. And where do you get such strange combinations?” (Isaac Bashevis Singer)

“Without translation I would be limited to the borders of my own country. The TRANSLATOR is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world.” (Italo Calvino)

TRANSLATORS never come to rest; they are constantly in two places at the same time by building associations that carry the foreign into the known of their own language.” (Rainer Schulte)

The TRANSLATOR is the only one who truly reads a text and reads it in its profundity, in all its layers, weighing and appraising every word and every image and perhaps even discovering its empty and false passages. When he is able to find or even invent the solution to a knot, he feels sicut deus [like a god]… ” (Primo Levi)

“The poet moves from life to language, the TRANSLATOR moves from language to life; both like the immigrant, try to identify the invisible, what’s between the lines, the mysterious implications.” (Anne Michaels)

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