2002 SUPPLEMENT — EDITORIAL

It was rather a surprise to realize that Swedish Book Review, in many respects the house journal of the British-based Swedish-English Literary Translators’ Association (SELTA), had never devoted a Supplement to the nitty-gritty of our trade, the actual art and craft of translation. This oversight is amply rectified in the 2002 Supplement, which can be seen as part of the movement to retrieve today’s translators from the anonymity and invisibility which have often been their lot. If the variety of material so willingly submitted for the Supplement is anything to go by, our translators are clearly learned and articulate people with a lot to say, who don’t often get a chance to say it. It was delightful to find the Guest Editor’s commissioning task so easy and to be able to include pieces from and about translators of different historical periods, from Victorian times to the present. It is gratifying that our coverage includes contributions from so many branches of translation work, among them children’s books, drama, poetry, film subtitling and collaborative projects. It is probably the first time so many articles about translation from and into Swedish have appeared in one volume.

All translators know how hard it is to describe what they do to non-translators. This is not to imply that ours is an unimaginably erudite or difficult task. The Swedish author Gun-Britt Sundström, who has worked on the new Swedish Bible and translated Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Cora Sandel into her native language, hit the nail on the head recently when she likened the translating process to riding a bike: daring to take off, trusting you will find a balance (Göteborgs-Posten, 22.9.02). It is initially daunting, then immensely satisfying, and virtually impossible to describe in words.

That is why it is particularly pleasing that so many current practitioners have written here about the way they work, offering a new perspective on people who usually feature in SBR though the texts they have translated or the books they have reviewed. This is also a welcome opportunity to publicize the quiet but invaluable role of the administrators who support the work of translators in both Great Britain and Sweden.

Susan Bassnett’s is a high-profile name from the academic world of Translation Studies and we are grateful to her for agreeing to contribute to this Supplement. Anyone who once wrote a piece in her newspaper column with the title “Translators are civilisation’s unsung heroes” is naturally assured of a warm welcome in our pages.

Alan Shelston hails from an English Literature department and developed his interest in Fredrika Bremer and her translator Mary Howitt via Bremer’s contact with the English writer Elizabeth Gaskell. His piece provokes thoughts about other translators of Swedish literature in the past, of whom we know all too little: Lillie Tudeer, Velma Swanston Howard, C.W. Stork and many others.

I hope that this Supplement, like many of SBR’s other themed issues in the past, will enjoy a long life, read and referred to by practitioners, students and admirers of translation alike.

Sarah Death
Guest Editor

 2002 Supplement