translating as writing

From Gregory Rabassa If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, 2005, New Directions Books

The translator, we should know, is a writer too. As a matter of fact, she could be called the ideal writer because all she has to do is write; plot, theme, characters, and all the other essentials have already been provided, so she can just sit down and write her ass off. But she is also a reader. She has to read the text closely to know what it’s all about. Here is where she receives less guidance or direction from the text. It is a common notion to say that if a work has 10,000 readers it becomes 10,000 different books. The translator is only one of these readers and yet she must read the book in such a way that she will be reading the Spanish into English as she goes along, with the result that her reading is also writing. Her reading, then, becomes the one reading that is going to spawn 10,000 varieties of the book in the unlikely case that it will sell that many copies and will be read by that many people.


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