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Translation and the Empathetic Imagination: An Interview with Dr. Chae-Pyong Song.


Translation_and_the_Empathetic_ImaginationDespite the fact that most American readers are familiar with the long-sustained success of translated works, few of us have thought to peek behind the velvet curtain to thank the unsung poet-hero who allows us to experience them: the translator.

Consider successful contemporary novels like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Reader. Who wrote these? If you don’t know, I can either tell you—Stieg Larsson and Bernhard Schlink, respectively—or you can check the cover of the book. Next question: Who translated them? I have no idea. Both texts sit before me, cover up, but the translator is, as Chronicle for Higher Education writer Jennifer Howard would say, “Like a discreet waiter who keeps the glasses filled while remaining practically [and unjustly] unnoticed.”

We all know bad translation when we see it—that’s easy. But when it’s seamless, when it’s impeccably on, the translator etherizes and the author bows before us. 

To offer not only a defense of why translation matters, but to walk us through his translation process, we are pleased to share with you Translation and the Empathetic Imagination, a free download from Marygrove College associate professor of English, Dr. Chae-Pyong Song.