International Women’s Day is on 8th March, a time to appreciate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. To celebrate, we would like to recognise the contributions of three outstanding female translators who have helped to bridge linguistic and cultural divides.
Constance Garnett (1861-1946)
Constance Garnett was an English translator who is best known for her translations of Russian literature into English. She was born in Brighton, England, in 1861 and began translating Russian literature in the late 19th century. Garnett was instrumental in bringing the works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and other Russian writers to the English-speaking world. Her approach was tireless, and her translations were notable for their clarity and accessibility, and they helped to create a new audience for Russian literature outside of Russia.
However, Garnett’s translations were not without controversy and had their critics. For example, Vladimir Nabokov accused her work of being “dry and flat, and always unbearably demure.” Nonetheless, her work remains highly regarded, and many of her translations are still in print today. Garnett’s translations helped to establish Russian literature as a major force in English-language literature, and she is remembered as one of the greatest translators of her time.
Lydia Davis (b. 1947)
Lydia Davis is an American author, translator, and essayist. She was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1947 and began her career as a writer in the 1970s. Davis is best known for her translations of French literature into English. She has translated the works of Gustave Flaubert, Marcel Proust, and many other French authors.
Davis’s translations are highly regarded for their accuracy and their attention to detail. She is known for her ability to capture the nuances of the French language and culture in her translations. Davis has won numerous awards for her translations, including the French-American Foundation Translation Prize and the Man Booker International Prize. She is also an accomplished author in her own right, and her short stories have been widely anthologised and translated into many languages.
Edith Grossman (b. 1936)
Edith Grossman is an American translator best known for translating Spanish and Latin American literature into English. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1936 and began her career as a translator in the 1970s. Grossman has translated the works of Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and many other Spanish-language authors.
Grossman’s translations are known for their fluidity and readability. She is known for her ability to capture the spirit of the original text while still making it accessible to English-speaking readers. Grossman’s translations have won numerous awards, including the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and the Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation. She is also an accomplished author and critic, and her essays on translation and literature have been widely published and anthologised.
These three female translators have made significant contributions to the world of literature and translation. They have helped to bridge linguistic and cultural divides, and their work has helped to bring the works of writers from different cultures to a broader audience.
On International Women’s Day, we should celebrate their achievements and those of the many other successful female translators, recognising the major role that they play in our global community.
At Mission Translate, the work of all our translators is highly valued. We seek to establish long-term, collaborative partnerships with them, offering them engaging translation work that benefits the wider community.
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