The Translator’s Library: Gill Paul’s Translation in Practice

By Ana María Correa

The Translator's Library is a series on the books that inform and inspire the art of translation.

Translation in PracticeThe intricate chain of events that occurs after a translator undertakes a translation for a publishing house is explained in Translation in Practice, the first book in a projected series the Dalkey Archive Press is publishing on issues in literary translation.

In this 74-page handbook, Gill Paul summarizes the main points of a 2008 symposium conducted at the British Council, which involved publishers, editors, and translators discussing the best ways of facilitating their working relationships in order to produce the best possible literary translations.

It should be noted that this isn’t a “how-to” for getting publishers interested in one’s translation, as the basic premise here is that publishers choose their translators, matching them with the books they intend to publish. Yet it does describe how publishers select their translators, including how readers’ reports and sample translations can help budding literary translators find work. But typically, an editor acquires a foreign-language novel and commissions it to a specific translator.

It’s an illuminating examination of how, once this relationship is established, things can run smoothly and potential pitfalls avoided. It clearly delineates (in helpful bullet points) the responsibilities of translators, editors, and copyeditors, and describes how to establish a habit of good communication at a project’s outset.

Translation in Practice provides excellent advice on royalties, translators’ contracts, the boundaries between translator and author, common translation problems and solutions (concerning issues such as dialects, humor, culture-specific references, and strong language), an explanation of the editing process, and what happens after a project is completed—including the translator’s continued involvement once the book is released. With insights from such translators as Amanda Hopkinson, Ros Schwartz, Lulu Norman, Robert Chandler, Shaun Whiteside, Sandra Smith, and Euan Cameron, Translation in Practice is a marvelous resource: a sure-footed step in the right direction.


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