Friday, 19 February 2010

Translations as collaborations

A few months ago I mentioned how Jorge Luis Borges collaborated on many of the translations of his work into English. In fact, my reading of his work has always been informed by comparisons between the originals and the English-language versions that he wrote with Norman Thomas di Giovanni.

However, I was unaware of the legal dispute that ensued following Borges' death and which has led to those collaborative translations, new works in their own right and incredible perspectives on Borges' creative processes, being taken out of print. This article from The Guardian provides some more background to the story.

Translations normally have a pretty short shelf life, but di Giovanni's work with Borges falls into a completely different category. I view it as fundamental for all readers of the Argentinian's prose and poetry, even in the original Spanish, bearing in mind the extra angle and often provocative light that these specific translations provide. There seems to be a constant dialogue between the English and the Spanish if you read them in tandem.

At least they're still available on the second-hand market, which is where I got hold of my copies. I thoroughly recommend them above the current (albeit very competent) Penguin Borges, simply because they're superb examples of translations as collaborations.

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