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The literary world
celebrates a disparate collection of international writers, but rarely
are the translators of their works ever mentioned. Edith Grossman does
these unsung heroes a great justice in 'Why Translation Matters.' In
this concise and indispensable book, Grossman explores the cultural role
translation participates within. The act of translation is ultimately
shown to be one of interpretation rather than simple verbatim, providing
new readers with fresh perspectives and engaging interplay with the
text. You will never read Marquez, Saramago, Dostoevsky, or Flaubert in
the same way again.
Why Translation Matters argues for the cultural importance of translation and for a more encompassing and nuanced appreciation of the translator's role. As the acclaimed translator Edith Grossman writes in her introduction, "My intention is to stimulate a new consideration of an area of literature that is too often ignored, misunderstood, or misrepresented."
For Grossman, translation has a transcendent importance: "Translation not only plays its important traditional role as the means that allows us access to literature originally written in one of the countless languages we cannot read, but it also represents a concrete literary presence with the crucial capacity to ease and make more meaningful our relationships to those with whom we may not have had a connection before. Translation always helps us to know, to see from a different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar. As nations and as individuals, we have a critical need for that kind of understanding and insight. The alternative is unthinkable."
Throughout the four chapters of this bracing volume, Grossman's belief in the crucial significance of the translator's work, as well as her rare ability to explain the intellectual sphere that she inhabits as interpreter of the original text, inspires and provokes the reader to engage with translation in an entirely new way.