In March, No Peanuts! launched The Translator’s Thistle/Il Cardo del Traduttore, a new initiative aimed at combatting the widespread phenomenon of the “invisible translator.”
In specific, the Translator’s Thistle project hopes to call attention to a very bad habit of Italian newspapers, magazines, and online journalists: the consistent omission of translators’ names in reviews, essays, preview pieces, and other articles about translated books.
This problem is not unique to Italy, of course, but the Italian press seems particularly likely to “forget” translators. In a country in which two-thirds of trade books are translations, that’s odd.
But in a country in which translators earn less than their colleagues anywhere else in the European Union – and in which relationships with “take it or leave it” publishers are increasingly a struggle – it’s very nearly sinister.
As we said in March: This is Not an Oversight. It’s a Policy.
On April 30th, we’ll announce the winner of the April 2013 Translator’s Thistle. In the meantime, just to underscore the principle that this is an extremely widespread practice in Italy and not simply an occasional error, here are the nominees for the April Translator’s Thistle/Cardo del Traduttore.
- The newspaper, La Stampa, for its TUTTOLIBRI insert of March 23, 2013, a special section dedicated to new books. Its many pages reveal that John E. Williams evidently translated his own Butcher’s Crossing into Italian (article by Marco Malvaldi), Bill Clegg did the same for Ninety Days (article by Christian Fascella), and so on for Joseph Stiglitz (The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, art. by Tonia Mastrobuoni), Alain Badiou (Plato’s Republic, art. by Maurizio Assalto), William Morris (How We Live and How We Might Live, art. by Bruno Ventavoli), Jane Austen (Lady Susan, art. by Marina Verna), Steve Berry (The Columbus Affair, art. by Fabio Pozzo), Michael Kumpfmüller (Die Herrlichkeit des Lebens, art. by Alessandra Iadicicco), Lauren Oliver (Delirium), and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Briefe und Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft). [firstname.lastname@example.org; @Tuttolibri_live]
- The magazine, Il Libraio (“The Bookseller”), available online (http://www.illibraio.it) as well as in Italian bookstores and in hard copy by subscription. Il Libraio is the promotional arm of the Mauri Spagnol Publishing Company and previews and puffs its own books. To our knowledge, the name of a translator has never appeared in Il Libraio. [email@example.com; @illibraio]
- Giuseppina Manin, for her review of the Italian translation of Frank Maubert’s, Le Dernier Modèle, in the Corriere della Sera of April 19, 2013, p. 45 (https://nopeanuts.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/genio-e-modella-eterna-passione.pdf). The name of the translator, A. Morpurgo, does not appear. [firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com (Media Relations), @Corriereit, @corrieremilano, @DeBortoliF (Publisher Ferruccio de Bortoli), @Daniele_Manca (Ass’t Publisher, Daniele Manca), @ggschiavi (Ass’t Publisher, Giangiacomo Schiavi), @lucfontana (Corriere Milan, Luciano Fontana), @La_Lettura]
- Paolo Giordano, for his review of the Italian translation of Kevin Powers’ Yellow Birds, in the Corriere della Sera (http://tinyurl.com/bmnnq33), March 26, 2013, p. 32. The name of the translator, Matteo Colombo, does not appear. (Are you seeing any pattern here?) Giordano, a novelist himself, won an important Italian literary prize, and his The Solitude of Prime Numbers appeared in English in 2010. In other words, he ought to know better. (Note that the review of Giordano’s novel in the New York Times of March 11, 2010 (http://tinyurl.com/buywz8b) names his English translator: Shaun Whiteside. Hey Corriere, was that so hard?) [Paolo Giordano: firstname.lastname@example.org; Corriere della Sera: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org ((Media Relations), @Corriereit, @corrieremilano, @DeBortoliF (Publisher Ferruccio de Bortoli), @Daniele_Manca (Ass’t Publisher, Daniele Manca), @ggschiavi (Ass’t Publisher, Giangiacomo Schiavi), @lucfontana (Corriere Milan, Luciano Fontana), @La_Lettura]
- The Libreriamo.it blog (“A Social Book Magazine for the Promotion of Books and Reading”) of March 26, 2013, for reporting Giordano’s review of Yellow Birds but failing to do six seconds of research to find the translator’s name and remedy Giordano’s error (http://www.libreriamo.it/a/3681/sul-corriere-della-sera-di-oggi-paolo-giordano-presenta-yellow-birds-di-kevin-powers.aspx). Director: Saro Trovato. [email@example.com, @libreriamo, @sarotrovato1]
- The Facebook community page “Il Mestiere di Scrivere” (The Writer’s Craft) (https://www.facebook.com/ilmestierediscrivere) which publishes daily squibs by and about famous writers such as Jack Kerouac, Marguerite Yourcenar, José Saramago, and literally scores of others. None of these writers wrote in Italian, obviously, and yet the quotations on the “Mestiere” page never, ever cite the translator whose words they use. Page administrator: Francesco Izzo. [firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, @francescoizzo]
Somebody tell us more about this rare, scattered phenomenon….