Review articleFrom Aesop to Zweig and from Martial to Martial Arts FictionCharting the history of literary translation into EnglishThe Oxford guide to literature in English translation Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. xxii + 656 pp. ISBN 0-19-818359-3 £60 (hardcover)and Encyclopedia of literary translation into English (2 vols). London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000. xxxvii + 1714 pp. ISBN 1-884964-36-2 £185 (hardcover)
In this contribution I will review two major reference works which came out simultaneously and which both set out to survey the field of literary translation into English. Both works will typically provide answers to questions like: When did the English start to translate from Japanese? Which is the English Rilke version that will best suit my needs? In what way was the post-War boom of South American writers dependent on translation? Did Chaucer translate only from the French? Does children’s literature in English translation fare differently from translated works in ‘serious’ literature? Despite a number of inaccuracies, omissions and debatable options, both reference works are each in its own way marvellous achievements. Librarians and individual researchers on restricted budgets (are there any others?) will find it particularly frustrating to have to make a choice between them.