Further thoughts on crediting literary translators

Credit: XKCD.com

After becoming the 3,685,454th person to be called “insulting” and “disgraceful” on Twitter, I thought some clarification might be in order after yesterday’s post. (As usual, my thoughts may have been lost amid the ranting.)

First, I am not trying to be controversial to bring visitors to my blog. Next week I will not be suggesting that literary translators should all work naked or for free or both. This is my blog and I like to use it to air my thoughts on literary translation.

Second, nowhere do I suggest that literary translators should not be credited for their work. Just that it shouldn’t be taken to be a God-given right (especially when so many other creators, regular translators among them, aren’t) and that the best way to do this is not necessarily with a credit on the front cover. While nice, I don’t see why a front-cover credit should be taken for granted. Also, I don’t think it is the be all and end all. I would, for example, rather work with a publisher who respected my work and made a real effort to promote my translation than a publisher who did neither and stuck my name on the front cover.

Third, I personally find writing snarky letters to subeditors irritating and not the best way to change things.

Fourth, just as “cream rises to the top” I am sure that “credit will be given where credit is due”. If your translation is particularly fantastic, it will be praised (whether your name is on the front cover or not). My point is that we have to earn this praise.

That is all. Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.