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Tim Parks on Why Translation Matters in The New York Review of Books

jasperjohns-flagsJasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958

In 2010, renowned author and Archipelago translator Tim Parks offered an exceptional insight into the practice of translation, its thanklessness when done well, and why it matters for fiction writing all over the world, not just in America.

…it would be futile to seek to establish how much we should be praising the author and how much the translator: the author wrote a fine story, which inspired the translator to make a fine translation. Of my own translations, I should say that I was always happy when the author got the praise and I escaped mention; it’s self-evident that only a good translation makes it possible for the reviewer to praise the author.

(“America First?”, NYRB July 15, 2010)

Coming off of the American Independence Day, Parks’s article is a thought-provoking and compelling article about the cross-cultural literary conversations that translation makes possible among some of today’s greatest writers, and how American’s are isolating themselves, intellectually.


The whole article, “America First?” is available for New York Review of Books subscribers, here.


[See also: Tim Parks’s translations of Antonio Tabucchi, The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico & The Woman of Porto Pim]


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