04 February 2009

Words Without Borders

For every book or literary work that is translated from English into other languages, something like 0.01 are translated from other languages into English.

Moreover, things translated from English tend to sell better than things translated into English, because ... well, would you rather read Harry Potter or The Tin Drum? This is not because other cultures don't write good world class mass market entertainment, as well as world class literature. Instead, it is because publishing houses translate English-language books into other languages to increase sales. But, by and large, it is academics that translate books from other cultures into English. They too would like to sell their books, but they are not giant publishing houses, and are going to key in on what they think are critical works of literature, not what they think will sell really, really well.

No wonder the rest of the world knows us so well and we know absolutely nothing about the rest of the world.

Words without Borders is an online 'zine seeking to fix that.

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