A couple of weeks ago I went to the London Book Fair and I can tell you they’re not joking when they’re talking about a ‘credit crunch’: there were hardly any complimentary goodies to be got this year. It was really pathetic: sweets (what adults eat sweets?), a few crisps, a couple of cheap-looking pens. You can tell how buoyant an industry is by the freebies it gives away at trade fairs.
Still, as usual, I came home with lots of brochures, full of attractive blurbs praising thousands of books, most of which shouldn’t have been published in the first place.
Much* too many books everywhere.
Anyway, about those brochures... I have two in front of me as I type: one is for Gallic Books and the other for Bloomsbury (yes, the publisher of the Harry Potter series; apparently, they haven’t been doing too well since the publication of the last HP, but that's neither here nor there). They both have books in translation on their lists; in fact, Gallic, whose motto is ‘The best of French in English’, only publishes books translated from the French. Yet, one looks in vain for the names of the translators. Not a single one is mentioned in their catalogues.
So, just like most of the texts I’ve worked on in the past 20 years, those books were translated by the Holy Spirit.
I’m slapping him for not raising his hand and shouting, ‘Hey, that’s not my work; so-and-so did it.’ He doesn’t, and translators in this country remain uncredited and unknown.
*Note to the Grammar Police**: I know it should be ‘Far too many books everywhere,’ but it doesn’t sound so funny.
** I’m told I am the Grammar Police.
Update (2.05.08): As it happens, Scott Pack (of the Friday Project), whose blog is so entertaining, recommended one of Gallic Books’ – er – books yesterday, here, without mentioning the translator’s name – obviously, since it’s probably nowhere to be seen. So I repeated my little rant there and, because he is a nice man (I think) and he cares about the written word, he took it seriously here. Thanks, SP!