TRANSLATION: L.A. Translation Study Group

If you are interested in joining the L.A. Translation Study Group, a collective that meets virtually and in the flesh, and works in the spirit of our teacher and mentor Michael Henry Heim, you may email me at magda8 at gmail dot com.

For now, I give you three things that continue to be guiding lights for me:

1) Tips for beginning literary translators from Translationista, aka Susan Bernofsky, here;

2) An interview with translator and scholar Suzanne Jill Levine about The Subversive Scribe — her book-length “translator’s statement” — with Words Without Borders, here;


3)  An excerpt from Don Quixote written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and translated by Edith Grossman. HarperCollins 2009.

When I heard him say “Dulcinea of Toboso,” I was astounded and filled with anticipation, for it occurred to me that those volumes contained the history of Don Quixote. With this thought in mind, I urged him to read the beginning, which he did, extemporizing a translation of the Arabic into Castilian and saying that it said: History of Don Quixote of La Mancha. Written by Cide Hamete Benengeli,6 an Arab Historian. I needed a good deal of cleverness to hide the joy I felt when the title of the book reached my ears; moving more quickly than the silk merchant, I bought all the papers and notebooks from the boy for half a real, but if he had been astute and known how much I wanted them, he certainly could have demanded and received more than six reales for their purchase. I immediately went with the Morisco to the cloister of the main church and asked him to render the journals, all those that dealt with Don Quixote, into the Castilian language, without taking away or adding anything to them, offering him whatever payment he might desire. He was satisfied with two arrobas of raisins and two fanegas of wheat,7 and he promised to translate them well and faithfully and very quickly. But to facilitate the arrangement and not allow such a wonderful find out of my hands, I brought him to my house, where, in a little more than a month and a half, he translated the entire history, just as it is recounted here.