Books: Trials of a Translator

IT is often said that good translations are like women: If I faithful they are not beautiful, if beautiful they are not faithful. The real test of a translator's skill, however, is not one of truth v. beauty but of workable compromise. That is a particular challenge in the case of Günter Grass, whose writing is generally regarded as remarkably hard to translate. Fortunately Grass's publishers managed at the very beginning to find one of the world's most talented translators for the task. He is Ralph Manheim, 63, a multilingual American who lives in...

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