THE ART OF TRANSLATION
My books have been translated into seven languages: Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Thai and Turkish. Every time a book moves from English into another language the question arises as whether the translation is an accurate reflection of the original. Thus I read with interest the article in the Weekend Australian by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee titled Speaking in Tongues:
“This leads to my final question: Is there a high road (a highway) to excellence in translation, and might that high road be provided by a theory of translation? Would mastery of the theory of translation make one a better translator? There is a legitimate branch of aesthetics called the theory of literature. But I doubt very much that there is or can be such a thing as a theory of translation - not one, at any rate - from which practitioners of translation will have much to learn.
Translation seems to me a craft in a way that cabinet-making is a craft. There is no substantial theory of cabinet-making, and no philosophy of cabinet-making except the ideal of being a good cabinet-maker, plus a handful of precepts relating to tools and to types of wood.”