Stories by Foreign Authors: Italian

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Read: Could two people use real-time translation to fall in love? But for now, at least, machine translation has not rendered literary translation obsolete. Instead of obviating literary translation, machine translation may be increasing both its perceived value and its user-friendliness.

The very fact that an ordinary mortal who does not know a foreign language can get by in one these days, to a degree, with a bit of cyborg assistance, may be making the idea of reading books in translation less daunting, less alienating, and more familiar than it once was. In , on top of all the factors that had already converged to fortify the translation field—the critical foment, the emergence of best-selling translated novels from abroad, the birth of new publishing houses, the rage for authors with immigrant pasts, and the new translation technology—came two more sweeteners.

The first was the Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard, who mesmerized the literary establishment with his massive, multivolume auto-fiction epic, My Struggle , translated by a Briton, Don Bartlett, and published by Archipelago.

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The sixth and final installment came out in English in September. The second was a mysterious Italian woman who called herself Elena Ferrante a pseudonym , whose quartet of novels set in Naples, starting with My Brilliant Friend which reached the top of the New York Times best-seller list , was translated by a New Yorker named Ann Goldstein and published by Europa. These books were highly literary, highly demanding, and highly in demand.

If there was any doubt before that translated literary fiction could be popular and of the moment, Knausgaard and Ferrante—through Bartlett and Goldstein—have erased it. They have shown that contemporary works by previously unknown foreign authors can be taken from their native soil almost as soon as they emerge, and be successfully transplanted here by gifted translators who know how to make them thrive in English.

In , American literature no longer means literature written by Americans, for Americans, about America. It means literature that, wherever it comes from, whatever nation it describes, American readers recognize as relevant to them, as familiar. Foreign is no longer foreign. Or do you want to feel as if the book has magically converted itself into flawless, easeful English, attuned to your own idiom?

And should a translation hew closely to the language and structure of the original, or should it re-craft the language to appeal to the target audience? Hardly anyone agrees—not editors, not scholars, not translators, and not readers. This makes it difficult even for experts to reach a consensus on which translated new books by unfamiliar authors and translators should be singled out for praise.

Another difficulty is that few have read the translated books in the original language, which means that most base their assessments on their opinion of the English, not knowing to what extent it reflects the urtext. Three of the books come from two houses that formed only in the past 15 years—Archipelago, with Love , by Hanne Orstavik, translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken; and Europa, with Disoriental, translated from the French by Tina Kover, and Trick , by Domenico Starnone, translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri.

It was published by Riverhead, a division of Penguin Random House. Still, there is room for progress. Sterminator Vesevo. My Friend Prospero. The Eternal City. Hall Caine. Miss Harriet. Guy de Maupassant.

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Stories by Foreign Authors: Italian eBook

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