Translators are the Shadow Heroes of Literature
Skill in literary translations depends not merely on a good knowledge of both the source and the target languages, but rather is essentially a creative endeavour, calling for literary sensitivity and cultural awareness.
Literary translators transmute one language, one system of values and one worldview into another. In our era of globalization, their art is more essential than ever before.
Literary translation is an accurate indicator of key aspects of the translator's work at large. The very existence of the endeavor of literary translating in a given country and the conditions surrounding such undertakings reveals much about a country and its government's willingness to promote that country’s literature.
"Dostoevsky, Heraclitus, Dante, Virgil, Homer, Cervantes, Kafka, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, Hölderlin, and scores of other poets and writers who have marked me forever – I, an American, whose only foreign language is French, have all been revealed to me, read by me, digested by me, in translation. Translators are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another, who have enabled us to understand that we all, from every part of the world, live in one world.
I would like to offer a salute and a declaration of thanks to all these men and women, these translators, who toil so selflessly to keep literature alive for everyone." (Paul Auster)