03 July 2006

Translators needed

Here's a (possibly ignorant) question. Much has been made (and rightly so) of the lack of attention given in various quarters to literature in translation. It's important that awareness of global literature increases for English-speaking readers. But what about books originally written in English and translated into other languages?

I have searched in vain for Spanish translations of Ellison's Invisible Man, or anything by Walker Percy or Annie Dillard. Joan Didion, David Markson, Stephen Dixon, and Wendell Berry are similarly absent, although Nabokov, Pynchon, and Vonnegut seem to be pretty-well represented (thankfully).

William Gass' In the Heart of the Heart of the Country is translated, but unavailable. There is a Spanish version of Richard Powers' In the Time of Our Singing, but these two seem to be the only translated works of the above authors.

Flannery O'Connor's stories (as well as Wise Blood) are translated into Spanish, but not Mystery and Manners.

Are these decisions entirely market-based? Is it up to each publisher to decide whether a work is "worthy" of translation into a second language (Spanish in this case)? Granted, all I did was look up certain authors on Amazon. Is there another resource I should be using instead, a better way to discover which works have been translated? (I find it very difficult to believe that Ellison hasn't been translated into Spanish.)

I am sure there are many possible explanations and responses to the issue (I'd love to hear them! Perhaps I just need to learn more about how publishing works?). But is there a way for the average Spanish-speaking reader to obtain copies of items not found in a general web search? Or is it true that these authors simply have not yet been translated into Spanish?


Arp said...

You can use the Spanish ISBn database: http://www.mcu.es/bases/spa/isbn/ISBN.html
And the database of Spanish University Libraries
to look for spanish translations

amcorrea said...

This is wonderful--thank you so much!! I'm really looking forward to exploring these.

Skyminder said...

I'm bilingual in Spanish, a lover of American and Spanish literature, and I hope to do some translations of SPANISH literature into English. There are LIBRARIES full of untranslated Spanish lit.

amcorrea said...

Agreed. Since writing this post, I've applied to various MA programs in order to do exactly this.

I've also bought books by Vonnegut, Powers, O'Connor, Rushdie, C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, Pullman, and Auden translated into Spanish. It's been important to share these works as well.

Nora Gale said...

Mystery and manners has just been translated into Spanish!

amcorrea said...

Thanks for this fantastic news! How did you hear about it?

Nora Gale said...

Well, I happen to know the person who reviewed it. Pure chance!