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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Found in translation

Sep 27, 2011 
The author Haruki Murakami.
      The Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2006, believes the English-speaking world must change its attitude to literature in translation.
      "Most of the writers here write in English," said Pamuk. "Maybe that's because the official language here is English. But for those working in other languages, their work is rarely translated and never read. So, much of human experience is marginalised."
      This complaint, voiced during a speech at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India earlier this year, might seem a surprising one coming from Pamuk. Although he writes in his native Turkish, his books have gone on to widespread readership in the English-speaking world. But that kind of attention is guaranteed by a Nobel, and Pamuk believes even while he is read in the Anglo-Saxon world, English-speaking critics often judge his work on terms different from those they use for literature in English.
      "When I write about love, critics in the US and Britain say 'this Turkish writer writes very interesting things about Turkish love'. Why can't love be general?"
      Pamuk's complaint is not a new one: the idea that the Anglo-Saxon world should open its eyes to foreign literature - especially fiction - has been around for decades. Most believe that the unchecked rise of English as a global language - which has found most recent expression, of course, online - hasn't helped. At Jaipur, festival organiser William Dalrymple, a historian and travel writer, echoed that argument, but also pointed to a broader problem in the Anglo-Saxon publishing culture.
      For complete article, click here

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