Books in Translation

The thrill of exploring other cultures, the joy of listening to other languages, the pleasure of being transported elsewhere — all are available through the magic of books. 

Books, both fiction and nonfiction, and stories told by the people native to places and written in their languages, give readers the sense of authenticity and a chance to see the place through the eyes of its inhabitants. Thus, these works have to be translated with all the specifics and the tone preserved.

You can learn about the art of translation in a couple of books found on hoopla–free and available with your library card.

If your interests in literature go deeper, and you enjoy literary criticism and would like to learn about the particulars of the art of translation, the Abbot Public Library’s digital Literary Reference Center is there for you, with easy, anytime access.

There, you will find digital reference resources, such as Masterplots and Magill’s Survey of World Literature, articles from various magazines and journals, and interviews with writers and translators.

You can search the database, or you can browse by selection of choices that include author’s name, genre, subject, literary character, etc.

You can read about various translations of iconic classic works, such as The Iliad, and how they compare with each other, about the exquisite art of translating poetry, the specifics of translating children’s literature or translating for children, and the challenges of translating plays.

Here are some books, originally written in various languages and translated into English, found on Overdrive/Libby or hoopla, and all of them are free and accessible with your library card.

Bhagavad Gita (Song of Lord) is a Sanskrit poem, one of the greatest literary and spiritual texts in Hinduism. While there are multitudes of translations of this poem, the more contemporary one by Stephen Mitchell gained a lot of praise.

The Odyssey is another great Classical work that attracted numerous translators. This particular version is praised not just for its translation, but also for the narration.

The Quarter, by the pre-eminent Egyptian writer and winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature, Naguib Mahfouz, is a collection of stories about Cairo and its inhabitants, their daily lives and observations.

The Neapolitan Novels, a 4-book series by the Italian author Elena Ferrante, became a simultaneous international bestseller when the first book in the series was initially published. 

The series, also dubbed Neapolitan Quartet, is a captivating and entertaining family saga that immerses the reader into the atmosphere of post-war Naples, where the story of a childhood friendship begins. The books follow the two main characters throughout their lives, observing not only how the story of their lives evolved, but also the changes happening in Italy and Naples through the years.

The books have been adapted into a TV series in Italy; the first two seasons (based on the first two novels) also aired on HBO.

Books by Scandinavian authors give you not only all the thrilling excitement of  well-conceived and executed mysteries, but also portray vivid images of Scandinavian landscapes, lifestyle, and living.

You can find many more books in translation on hoopla, brought to you by the Abbot Public Library.

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