Book reviewCulture in Transit: Translating the Literature of Quebec Montréal: Véhicule Press, 1995. 198 pp. ISBN 1-55065-060-2 $ 18.95
Reviewed by Rainier Grutman
Table of contents
In 1988, while informing a Norwegian audience of the current state of literary translation in Canada, Wayne Grady was asked a question that stunned him: "Do you mean to say . . . that Canadian translators spend all their time translating other Canadians?" (p. 25). Underlying the question was the assumption that translation occurs between, rather than within, countries. Such is the case not only in Norway, but also in Italy or France for example. In none of these countries is much time spent translating other Italian or French writers, for the obvious reason that they have already written in Italian or in French. Things tend to be more complicated in officially bilingual countries like Canada: they either wait for a foreign publisher to translate their fellow countrymen, or they take the initiative themselves. The latter approach, a cultural compensation of sorts, has been Canada's policy since the inception of the federally funded Arts Council programme for translation, back in 1972. Hence Grady's surprise when questioned about what Sherry Simon terms, in her introduction to a new collection of essays, the "intra-national affair" (p. 8) of Canadian translation.