As translations, I mean. Well, not just bestsellers, but those are most likely to be maimed by translators. Or publishers, rather. Because, you see, they usually tumble head over heels to be first to translate and publish A Hit, and that means a publisher needs the translation done Fast, and preferably Cheap. Quality does not matter, as folks are more than likely to buy The Best, or what they are told is The Best. Of course, those that actually read what they have bought cannot understand what`s so special about such a load of crap, yet few realize it`s not always the author that should be blamed…
Anyway, authors do not care if their books are crippled by translators or not. Otherwise they would not sell copyrights to that kind of publishers. To put it more precisely, some authors do care. The very best and unique ones, mostly. Tolkien did. Lem did. Alas…
As a Lithuanian, I suppose I`d better discuss translations into my own language. Not that things were better with other languages*, lately. Besides, I`m not sure others have anything like our Anti-Award (late now, I must admit, yet they did try, at least). What I mean is Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators, prompted by swindled readers, did try to shame the unscrupulous publishers/translators by bestowing Anti-Awards for worst translations. A fat lot of good that did! Publishers do not care as long as authors do not care. Why should they? Copyrights are still being sold without inquiring after the translation quality. The only victims are the unsuspecting buyers/readers, but it is too late to whine once you have paid the money. No “money back” for books awfully translated. Writers, I`m sorry to repeat, seem not to care a fig. I do wonder what would they say if they happened to read their own work re-translated… I am sure Carroll and Tolkien would spin in their graves if only they knew what our translators have done to “Sylvie and Bruno” and “The Lord of the Rings”. I suppose nobody has enlightened Rowling about how her Harry Potter books read in Lithuanian… or maybe she just does not care. And so on, and so forth…
Oh well… Just in case, I`m providing some links to some sites analyzing poor translations. Like the LALT Anti-Awards for 2007 and 2008, and a coupla others. Most of the pages/sites are Lithuanian, but those interested should be able to recognize the titles of the books maimed. And that`s but a tiny fragment of what should really be Anti-Awarded…
On a brighter note, books written by Scandinavian authors are translated rather decently, mostly. I suspect that is so because Scandinavians care about their literature and sponsor translations into other languages. Still, I do not understand why it is them that should pay. Good books properly translated pay for themselves, no?
...always look at the bright side of...
* Like, say, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Harry Potter translated into Russian, or Da Vinci Code translated into Croatian, and lots more, sadly.
The links below lead to non-English language pages, but they are relevant.
I`m happy to announce I was too hasty to proclaim the Anti-Award for literary translations into LT Late. Seems the Anti-Award is about to return!