For far too long now, the translator has been relegated to the rear-facing backseat of the literary world; the ever-so-smaller “translated by” name towards the bottom of the title page that few people (save those of us passionate about literature in translation) give more than a cursory glance to. But in Suzanne Jill Levine’s book, The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction, the translator’s role is at last given full and detailed attention in a vibrant and unique way. Levine’s goal with her book is to:
‘Make the translator’s presence (traditionally invisible) visible and comprehensible…Far from the traditional view of translators as servile, nameless scribes, the literary translator can be considered a subversive scribe. Something is destroyed—the form of the original—but meaning is reproduced through another form.’
As somebody who tries – albeit not as prolifically (or successfully!) as Levine – to tread that border between literary criticism and literary translation, I’m excited to read this. As LeTourneau writes in her review, it’s not often that a translator is acknowledged at all, so to see a translator given the space to reflect at length and in depth on her practice is a real treat.