American writer Ursula K. Le Guin died on Monday, 22 January 2018. She was best known as a fantasy and science fiction author, of course. But did you know she was a translator, too? Before her death, she had four published translations to her name:
- Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral.
- Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way, although Le Guin described this as “a rendition, not a translation.”
- Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was, by Angélica Gorodischer.
- Squaring the Circle: A Pseudotreatise of Urbogony Fantastic Tales by Gheorghe Săsărman.
Le Guin loved languages: writing, playing with words, translating and inventing new ones. She wasn’t merely a powerful storyteller; she also had an incredible insight into the nature of language and communication. With that in mind, here are ten quotes from Ursula Le Guin for translators and language lovers alike to enjoy.
Ursula Le Guin on how writing relates to translation:
“Translation is entirely mysterious. Increasingly I have felt that the art of writing is itself translating, or more like translating than it is like anything else. What is the other text, the original? I have no answer. I suppose it is the source, the deep sea where ideas swim, and one catches them in nets of words and swings them shining into the boat… where in this metaphor they die and get canned and eaten in sandwiches.”