Found in Translation

As the world gets smaller and even the most isolated cultures open up, more works of literature are being translated to reach new audiences.

The Chinese government is supporting China Publishing Group’s effort to translate 500 classics of social science literature, one of the largest projects of its kind in modern China. China’s biggest publishing house is adding to its existing collection of foreign works to further academic and cultural development. In light of the inconsistencies in English language education, the translations could serve an important role in exposing Chinese students to social science writings from other places and times.

Meanwhile, in Cairo Humphrey T. Davies is hard at work translating Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq’s
Al-Saq ‘ala al-Saq
. The award-winning translator is tackling this complex book, fraught with archaic language and obscure references, to increase accessibility and exposure to a masterpiece that many in the Arab world have heard of but few outside of academia have actually read. Al-Shidyaq, one of the first Arab novelists and a modernist ahead of his time, has never been translated into English, like of the literature in the Arab world. Many of his ideas on freedom of expression and human rights will resonate with participants and observers of the Arab Spring; this project could not have come at a better time.

Finding talented translators who can bring works to life in other languages help spread art and thinking, which makes the world a more interesting, and more educated, place. It can be a small(er) world, after all.

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