Allan Massie

The Terrors of Translation

A FEW YEARS ago I was appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival with Ivan Klima. As it happened I had recently received copies of the Czech edition of one of my Roman novels. So I gave him one – a small matter of courtesy, also an opportunity to get rid of a copy. ‘Your novel,’ he asked, the next time I met him – ‘is it written in some sort of slang?’ ‘Not at all,’ I said. ‘Then I’m sorry,’ he rejoined , ‘but it’s very bad Czech.’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It is one of those nice linguistic ironies that English should have attempted to make sex respectable by clothing… ,
    • 'He was to my mind the father of the idea that journalism – yes, even journalism – can have a moral dimension to it… ,
    • RT : Feeling old, as exhumes a piece I wrote 37 years ago. But a joy to see Kathy O’S there too. Here’s why:… ,
    • 'Enough of his character remains just out of reach for Barnes to relish the challenge of imagining him.' Patrick M… ,
    • RT : I did a thing about the new Penguin Book Of Oulipo for this month’s Literary Review: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,
    • 'Although he travels through time and space to find the best produce, his choices, delightfully, are not obvious.'… ,