HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

If This Be Treason: Translation and Its…
Loading...

If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, A Memoir (edition 2005)

by Gregory Rabassa

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
935131,245 (3.27)45
Member:Rise
Title:If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, A Memoir
Authors:Gregory Rabassa
Info:New England Natural Resources (2005), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 189 pages
Collections:Read
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, A Memoir by Gregory Rabassa

None

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 45 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
I enjoyed the introductory section, but the core of this book is Rabassa's descriptions of the various authors he has worked with and the books he has translated. Even without any knowledge of the books or of most of the authors, I found the various translation issues fascinating.

As someone who does translating, though not of literary texts, I found his thoughts both helpful and supportive in my own work. A mere theoretical study would not have been as good. Translation is mostly a matter of finding the next word and of weighing the difficulties when the languages just don't want to match up.

If this be treason, it is in the cause of the victim. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Jan 16, 2014 |
"Translation is always a treason", said Okakura Kakuzo in The Book of Tea (1906), "and as a Ming author observes, can at its best be only the reverse side of a brocade—all threads are there, but not the subtlety of colour or design."

Gregory Rabassa is one who sought to preserve the patterns of subtlety as best he could. His résumé speaks for itself. Each of his translations is discussed in his memoir If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents (2005). His best known works are the much-loved translations of Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Rabassa introduced his discussion of his translations in his memoir, under the section “The Bill of Particulars”:

Excluding shorter pieces I have done … the writers I have translated thus far number twenty-seven, with some awaiting publication …. The works are largely fiction, with one small poetry chapbook, a literary study, and a social history. This varying array of personalities, styles, languages (Portuguese and Spanish), and nationalities, all funneled into the work of one translator reveals how this last must in some way undergo a kind of controlled schizophrenia as he marshals his skills at immutability. My own experience in this matter has not been all that complex or worrisome. As I have said before, I follow the text, I let it lead me along, and a different and it is to be hoped proper style will emerge for each author. This bears out my thesis that a good translation is essentially a good reading; if we know how to read as we should we will be able to put down what we are reading in another language into our own. I might have said into our own words, but these, even in English, belong to the author who indirectly thought them up.

Rabassa’s memoir then went on to describe each of the books. His “rap sheet” mentions not only the nature of the books and his estimation of them, but also his relationship with the authors in question. It can be said that Rabassa not only produced a version of these works in English. In many creative ways, he also “co-authored” them. ( )
  Rise | Dec 27, 2012 |
This memoir was penned by 90-year-old Rabassa after a formidable career translating some of the great classics of Latin American writing, including the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Luisa Valenzuela, Julio Cortazar, Clarice Lispector, and more. Having lectured in translation, I imagine the book is aimed at students of translation, as it includes many constructive pointers about the translation process and its challenges. Rabassa is forthright, irreverent, and perhaps wry, but thoroughly enjoyable. I expected more of a memoir – because of the title – but it included only incidental bits about his life. Most of the book is dedicated to actual books and authors he has worked with, which made me realise how few Latin American authors/books I’ve read from these parts. He brings to light some very interesting points about translation and, on the whole, I found it a worthwhile read. ( )
1 vote akeela | Jan 11, 2011 |
If This Be Treason is Gregory Rabassa's memoir about becoming and be a translator, and of the art of translating. Rabassa doesn't spend much time on his family or upbringing, but does, in hindsight, mention the things he experienced growing up as a child and as a young adult which seem to have contributed to his becoming a translator. He talks about the nicknames they were all given as children, his dabbling in languages in college, the cryptography he did during WWII. All of these stories laced with priceless bits about the art and occupation of translation. The second part of the book discusses each of the authors he has translated (he says 27, but I count 30 listed) and the fascinating challenges their particular work or works provided him. His first translation was Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar, which won the National Book Award (they once had a translation prize). I found the discussions of everything from word choice and style to the difficulty of translating slang and racial slurs all intriguing. While there are certainly some familiar authors here (e.g. Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marguez and Antonio Lobo Atunes), there are certainly many I am not familiar with, including several women authors.

"A piece of writing cannot be cloned in another language, only imitated." --Gregory Rabassa
flag abuse ( )
3 vote avaland | Sep 29, 2009 |
Rather deceived by this book. Although I knew that it dealt with translations from Spanish and Portuguese into English, I didn’t expect only the first quarter of it to be a reflection on the author’s own experience in translation—which I was looking for—, while Rabassa details afterwards each translation of his, author by author. I found this second part rather lengthy because I knew none of them and none of their works. I guess someone more acquainted with Latin-American literature will find this main part of the book much more interesting. But Rabassa’s style is difficult to follow, and his vocabulary somewhat chosen.

From the many examples and anecdotes given by Rabassa, one gets the impression that the most difficult task in translating a book is to find the right title. I agree with him, also when he says that ‘translations have the strange progressive literary virtue of never being finished’, because this is precisely what I feel in my present first experience of translating a whole book.

It is very instructive to spend some time in a bookshop or a library, comparing different translations of the same book. I did it with the first page of Pride and Prejudice before finally buying the original English version—should I say that I hate reading translations…—, but I now understand better Rabassa when he says that ‘a translator is essentially a reader and we all read differently, except that a translator’s reading remains in unchanging print’.

One point of humour can be found in the last pages when Rabassa explains the difficulty to translate honorific titles such as ‘Doña Inés’ which he left as it was in English. (I would have done the same; I don’t see the point in mentioning it.) What follows is funnier: ‘This form of address has no equivalent in other languages, and attempts to translate the don in ‘Don Quixote’ have failed miserably. There is always a problem with students who think that his name must really be Donald and go along calling him Don.’
( )
  Pepys | Nov 18, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811216195, Hardcover)

The long-awaited memoir and meditation on the art of translating by the most acclaimed American translator of Latin American literature.

Gregory Rabassa's influence as a translator is incalculable. His translations of Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude and Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch have helped make these some of the most widely read and respected works in world literature. (García Márquez was known to say that the English translation of One Hundred Years was better than the Spanish original.) In If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents Rabassa offers a cool-headed and humorous defense of translation, laying out his views on the art of the craft. Anecdotal, and always illuminating, If This Be Treason traces Rabassa's career, from his boyhood on a New Hampshire farm, his school days "collecting" languages, the two-and-a-half years he spent overseas during WWII, his travels, until one day "I signed a contract to do my first translation of a long work [Cortázar's Hopscotch] for a commercial publisher." Rabassa concludes with his "rap sheet," a consideration of the various authors and the over 40 works he has translated. This long-awaited memoir is a joy to read, an instrumental guide to translating, and a look at the life of one of its great practitioners.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
22 wanted

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.27)
0.5
1
1.5 1
2
2.5 1
3 5
3.5 2
4 3
4.5 1
5

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,308,800 books! | Top bar: Always visible