When you start reading a book

in translation and as you pass through the first pages you realize with a sunken heart that you walk among the ghosts of the source language and the shuddering testimonials to the translator’s unwillingness or inability to invent an original English equivalent. Bummer.

(This post may or may not be related to my reading of Herbert Lomas’s translation of Johanna Sinisalo’s Troll: A Love Story.)

2 thoughts on “When you start reading a book

  1. This happened to me when I tried to read Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery in English. After the first few pages I gave up. I then read it in French, closer to the original Italian, and found a completely different book which was well worth reading. I usually go for a translation from the original to a language I consider the closest. Hence French for Italian or Spanish, German for the Scandinavians and Dutch and either French, English or German for Hungarian, Russian etc. My inability to read Russian in the original is one of my greatest regrets.

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