Yesterday I received in the mail the Korean edition of the book Parecon: Life After Capitalism. It is very elegant looking, but of course I couldn’t read a word. If there is anyone out there from Korea who gets a copy of the book and reads through it, I would love to hear your assessment. This was true as well for the Italian edition which arrived a few weeks ago, and for the Spanish and Greek editions coming very soon, as well as for the Swedish, the Japanese, and so on and so forth. There are about twenty or so in the works. This is quite new for me.
It isn’t just that the whole idea of having this book that I wrote in English be available as well in other languages is exciting and inspiring. And it isn’t just that I marvel at the work of the translators in each case. It is hard enough to read a long book with serious attentiveness from page to page and chapter to chapter. Imagine converting every word and phrase into another language, trying both to preserve intended meaning and also to give it a degree of readability, cohesion, and style that may even have been (and in my case probably was) absent in the first place. That is quite an undertaking!
I should say, I am actually unusually lucky that in a number of cases I have met or even know the translator – for Italian, Greek, Serb, Japanese, and German – which gives a great deal of added confidence.
But it is also an odd experience. Here is a book I have written sitting right in front of me, and I am unable to identify so much as a single line of it. There is someone out there who has poured over its every word, and often I have no knowledge of them at all. Troubling, I don’t know whether some of those lines are other than what I intended, and, in fact, how could it be otherwise, when you think about the scale of it. Likewise, I can’t get to enjoy the improvements in style the translator has managed to insert.
So, finally, if the Korean translator happens to read this – thank you so much, and if you would be in touch I would love to hear your thoughts on the book.