Il Mestiere di riflettere

This is the title of a book recently published by Azimut whose subtitle is crucially important: “Storie di traduttori e traduzioni”.

azimut_mestiere_mr

I came across it through the website of one of the contributors, Anna Mioni, and this excellent blog.  The book is edited by Chiara Manfrinato  and includes contributions by other leading translators. But, as the blurb reads, the strange thing about this book is that, for once, the translators are the authors.

Literary translation (including non-fiction) is an enormous market in Italy with translated works accounting for approximately 22.5 percent of book sales (down from 25% on average throughout the 1990s).  As many as 32.7% percent of children’s books are translated in Italy – what’s more, a staggering 71% of those from English! These figures come from the 2008 AIE Report (Associazione Italiana Editori).  To put these figures into some sort of perspective, compare that overall figure of 22.5 to the paltry translation levels in Anglo-Saxon countries: 3 percent in the US and even less here in the UK.

However,  the size of the translation market into Italian is not reflected by correspondingly generous conditions for translators – indeed, quite the opposite.

This is why it is so wonderful to see a book written by a group of translators.  The title can be roughly translated as “Reflecting as a Profession”.   The authors write about the book:

As the Italian saying goes, <<Traduttore, traditore>> (“to translate is to betray”). But as translators we don’t see ourselves as traitors at all.  If anything, sometimes we feel betrayed ourselves.

This is a collection of tales and stories: stories about translations, but above all stories about translators.  Because inside these pages, between these lines, lies our work, our lives, ourselves.

So keep an eye out for this book, I hope it might make its way north and across the Channel – or even across the Atlantic.  Who knows, 2009 might yet prove to be the year of the Translator!

About Lucy Byatt

I'm a translator, from Italian into English. I also teach Italian Renaissance history and write.
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