Italian Word of the week TRADUZIONE

italicsBy Daniela Gross

“Tradurre è tradire”. It sounds like a tongue twister, and it is one of the best known Italian proverbs. It reminds us that “To translate is to betray”, and that any translation, even the most accurate one, is a kind of compromise that will inevitably fail to catch some nuances or subtleties.
However, without the act of “traduzione” (translation) we’d be lost in the literary world, sentenced to miss out on an infinity of masterpieces, or convicted to expand indefinitely our linguistic skills: studying Russian to read Isaac Babel, Yiddish to read Bashevis Singer and Hebrew to approach Aaron Appelfeld (and that’s just the Jewish literary world).
Nevertheless, whereas translations from a foreign language are, in Italy, really common, they make up less than three percent of all American book sales. Among these translations, Italian authors are scarcely represented, but soon the scenario will be definitely enhanced. In the spring of 2015, the writer Primo Levi, unique among the modern Italian writers, is going to be integrally published in English. This new edition, curated by Anne Goldstein, a translator and an editor of The New Yorker and Domenico Scarpa, will present all of Primo Levi’s books in the original version, updating their translation and even the titles, which in the past were altered to reassure the foreign public. Primo Levi (1919-1987), Italian Jewish chemist, writer, and Shoah survivor, is a great testimony to the Italian Jewish experience and one of the best Italian authors. So, this “traduzione” comes as fantastic news.