Reflections on Translation

Author: Susan Bassnett

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Multilingual Matters
Number of pages:
210mm x 148mm

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This collection of essays brings together a decade of writings on translation by leading international translation studies expert, Susan Bassnett. The essays cover a range of topics and will be useful to anyone with an interest in how different cultures communicate. Bassnett draws upon her personal experience to explore issues such as why the same things cannot be expressed in all languages, why translators in war zones risk their lives for their work, whether humour can travel across cultures, why translated menus are often so bad and whether poetry does indeed get lost in translation.

Written for a general reader with an interest in language, the essays also nourish the scholarly mind.  Those familiar with translation will be stimulated by the fresh approaches to well-known questions from a personable guide.  To identify the subjects and themes of the essays is to capture only part of their richness.  The wealth of reflection lies in the examples that emerge, effortlessly it would seem, from Bassnett's experience and learning.  It is her ability to engage with the casual and the serendipitous, to draw together moments across time and continents, that create a marvellous unity of tone, and drive home many important points about the exchange of cultures and languages.


Target, Vol. 27:1 (2015)

Theoretically savvy and intellectually stimulating, this collection of essays, written in highly readable prose by Susan Bassnett over a period of thirty years, offers something for everyone. Professor Bassnett writes about culture, history, religion and translation, and especially about the complex, multilayered relations amongst them, in a thoughtful, deeply humane manner.

Martha P. Y. Cheung, Hong Kong Baptist University

Susan Bassnett has done as much as anyone to help establish Translation as a rewarding subject of academic study. Now, in the thirty-nine wide-ranging chapters of this new book, she offers meditations on the subject that are as acute as they are lucid, and as lively as they are wise.

Harish Trivedi, University of Delhi

In this highly readable, stimulating and challenging collection of essays Susan Bassnett shows the incisive intelligence, humane engagement and breadth of knowledge that have been a constant in her writings over the years. The book is a must read for anyone who cares about the present and future of translation on our planet.

Michael Cronin, Centre for Translation and Textual Studies, Dublin City University

This collection offers a fascinating and timely insight into the subject of one woman who is 'engaged in translation'…At times scholarly, at times resolutely practical, this book represents the unique ability of the translatior 'to shift perspective, to look simultaneously from within and from without, to question oneself and one's own culture as much as one questions the other'.

Caroline Williamson in the ITI Bulletin, November-December 2011

Susan Bassnett is a leading international expert in translation studies, and author of best-selling books in the field that have been translated into some 20 languages. A bilingual who has practical experience of translation and interpreting. Bassnett’s accessible, jargon-free writing has made her work popular with students around the world. The forthright essays collected in this volume reflect ten years of writing regularly for professional translators and general readers.


1. Language and Identity

2. Original Sin

3. Theory and Practice: the old dilemma

4. Dangerous Translations

5. How modern should translations be?

6. Status Anxiety

7. Under the Influence

8. Reference Point

9. Translation or Adaptation

10. Translating Style

11. Telling Tales

12. Pride and Prejudices

13. Turning the page

14. Poetry in motion

15. When translation goes horribly wrong

16. Living Languages

17. All in the mind

18. More than words

19. Just what did you call me?

20. Lost in translation

21. Good rhyme and reason

22. Women's Work

23. Plays for today

24. Between the lines

25. Playing on words

26. Pleasures of rereading

27. On the case

28. Gained in translation

29. Layers of meaning

30. The value of comparing translations

31. Where the fun comes in

32. Translators making the news

33 What exactly did Saddam say?

34. Native strengths

35. What's in a name?

36. Food for thought

37. Family matters

38. Rethinking theory and practice

39. The power of poetry

General, Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Undergraduate
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