The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded this morning to German Herta Müller, of whom I know zero, except what I’m reading about her today. Never heard of her. I actually like this about the Nobel Prize for Literature — I know all about the great American writers and many Canadian and English writers also. But my knowledge of world literature is sorely lacking. Now I have someone new to discover.
>Nobel Prize Goes to Müller
>Okay, here’s an admission: Yet another recent Nobel laureate whom I’ve never even heard of, and this confession coming from one who has considered himself very well-read and pretty well versed in literature. This is not to diminish Ms. Muller’s achievement, and I congratulate her. I just wonder if, as an American and English-speaker only, I’m somehow missing out on a lot of erstwhile magnificent literature because it isn’t translated into my mother tongue, and if this is so, why? Are we so overwhelmed by the Dan Browns and Stephanie Meyers and Oprah’s choices that a world of great literature is being eclipsed here by the shadow of towering blockbusters?
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Muller's work _has been_ translated into your mother tongue.
My guess is that one issue for monolingual English speakers is that there's often an anxiety about the translation process. (As illustrated by the cliche, "lost in translation".) After all, a translated work is basically 50% the work of the author and 50% the work of the translator, and this might seem somehow impure to those who are fond of the "solitary genius" model of writing great literature.