What do Samuel Putnam, Mikhail Lozinsky, Constance Garnett, and Hitoshi Igarashi have in common? Have you heard of Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha, Dante’s Inferno, Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses? All works that have been widely translated and critically acclaimed, lauded as some of the greatest literary works of their time or of all time. Their translators and re-creators, however, have remained in obscurity (even in the tragic case of Igarashi’s murder).
On September 30th, the feast of St. Jerome (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus [347-420AD]), who is famous for his translation of the Bible into Latin, we celebrate International translation day. It is not a call or a beg for fame or recognition on the part of translators; instead, it is an opportunity for deep gratitude toward all who have facilitated cultural exchange in its myriad forms.
Without these people, not only would our world be less known, less global, we would all be culturally impoverished, knowing nothing of the beauty resident in the minds of others. I am reminded of Ortega y Gasset, who suggested the impossibility of a perfect translation, yet who in the same breath proclaimed its necessity.
So on a personal note I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation, especially to the translators who have allowed me to read works I would otherwise have been unable to read.
Thanks for your work and your creative abilities; you have made us all richer!