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View Diary: Bookflurries-Bookchat: Updated: BBC’s List of 100 Books You Must Read Before You Die (317 comments)

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  •  As I stated below, (1+ / 0-)
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    it depends on how you define "classic."  The simple fact is a book will be read much more widely in the western world if it is translated into English---a practical consideration not a sign of literary ignorance or arrogance, imo.

    Of course a book can be a "classic" within its own culture, but if the English speaking world can't read it it will be a lesser known classic. Would Tolstoy's books be considered classics if they were never translated into English or French or all the other languages they've been translated into?  Sure, in Russia.  But no one here would know who he is.  Same is true for English writers.  If they're never translated they are lesser known.

    The issue is accessibility to the widest audience---which means translations all ways.

    "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

    by StellaRay on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:36:39 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry that is not a simple fact. And, yes, it is a (0+ / 0-)

      sign of literary ignorancee and arrogance.

      What the hell do the French or Germans care if we translate things into English?

      Germans, who are way better-read than us and who still have a great interest in literature, unlike us, all know at least two modern Dutch authors, Cees Nooteboom and Harry Mulisch. They don't care if we don't know them or translate them. And they don't read them in Dutch, they read them in German translation, ie. those authors are not part of their culture.

      And then there is Roberto Bolaño, where the English world was scrambling furiously to get translations out for this modern classic because they were behind. I have a novel in Spanish of his that still hasn't been published in English, cause we are just behind, we don't really care about the rest of the world much; we are insular.

      Or have you never lived in a non-English-speaking country?

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