International Translation Day, which is an annual event held on 30 September, is unfortunately not very well known. It’s held on this day in celebration of the feast of St Jerome, the Bible translator widely considered the patron saint of translators. The International Federation of Translators is the promoter of International Translation Day, and has been since it was first held in 1953.
What Happens on International Translation Day?
Basically, International Translation Day is an annual opportunity for translators, publishers, students, librarians, booksellers, reviewers, and bloggers to gather and network, to discuss challenges and celebrate successes, and to debate important issues and developments within the translation sector. International Translation Day was originally hosted at the Free World Centre and has since gone from strength to strength: since the year 2013, it’s been hosted at the British Library. A day-long program is held which includes multilingualism, seminars on women writers in translation, alternative routes to publication, the state of translation in higher education, and translating for the stage. Plus, you’ll experience a detailed picture of the entire chain – from author to reader – what does work and what doesn’t work when it comes to publishing translated literature.
Great Writers You Can Only Read in Translation
To celebrate International Translation Day 2016, let’s take a look at some of the world’s greatest writers, but these are writers you can only read in translation. Just in case you may have missed out on these, they’re some of our greatest writers who didn’t write in English.
Miguel De Cervantes
Miguel De Cervantes was the 17th-century Spanish author who wrote short stories and several novels. However, he’s been immortalized for his story that follows the travels of an aging, dotty Knight: The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. This fascinating novel is both forlorn and comical, and the hero of this novel so idealistic that a synonym for idealism, ‘quixotic,' was inspired by his character. The novel was published in two parts between the years 1605 and 1615, and has often been described as ‘the first modern novel.' This statement has been disputed, but if Don Quixote is, in fact, the first modern novel it’s because of the preference for prose over poetry, the many different versions of Spanish spoken in the novel, and the attention to ordinary life.
Frenchman, Gustave Flaubert, is probably best known for Madame Bovary, his debut novel. Madame Bovary is the story of Emma Bovary, the adulterous doctor’s wife in rural France. According to Flaubert’s translator, Lydia Davis, this novel was painstakingly written. Apparently, for months at a time, he spent up to 12 hours every day at his desk, writing as little as a single page each week. Understanding the perfectionism of each sentence written by Flaubert, there’s certainly no greater test of a translator’s skill than Madame Bovary! This novel has been credited as being one of the very first examples of literary realism, whereby writers attempt to show, and not tell, the mundaneness of life.