Book reviewReflections on Translation (Topics in Translation 39). Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 2011. xvi + 173 pp. ISBN 978-1-84769-408-9 £19.95 (pb).
Reviewed by Sherry Simon
Table of contents
“Translation and the meaning of everything” is the subtitle chosen by David Bellos for his recent A Fish in My Ear, and it would have served just as well for Susan Bassnett’s latest collection of essays. Bellos and Bassnett are both distinguished translators and scholars who have the same mission: to show how translation is a door that opens onto a vast world of ideas. But while Bellos confronts an encyclopedic range of questions linked to translation in the world, Bassnett offers more personal and writerly reflections. Written as columns over the last ten years for the non-scholarly magazines The ITI Bulletin and The Linguist, the essays begin in the reading life of a busy professional. Books land on her desk because she is a member of a literary jury, because she must write a review, because good friends or family members have sent them. “Recently I found myself reading…” is often at the start of an essay which develops into an exploration of a particular translation issue. What Bassnett shows so powerfully is how translation, more than one might have realized, is at the heart of our existence as readers, as theatre-goers, as citizens.