Annals of Translation

Dava Sobel, author of Longitude, recently reviewed Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder for The B&N Review,  noting that it swept her into “riding happily with its heroes through a blaze of adventures and ideas.” She sent us this enlightening note recently about the passage of a reviewer’s work into other languages:

I don’t know whether I ever told you about my wonderful Chinese translator, Xiao Mingbo, who translated two of my books for a Chinese publisher–even though he is employed full time as a professor of information technology.

We stay in touch, and I recently saw him in Shanghai in connection with the total eclipse of July 22. He asked me about on-line book reviews, so of course I referred him to B&N. He took it upon himself to translate my review of The Age of Wonder for a Chinese on-line forum of translators. I thought you’d enjoy hearing what he told me:

I translated your book review of “The Age of Wonder”, and it was welcomed by readers in the free translators forum. It was even selected as the editors’ choice to appear on the main webpage. I was much delighted to have figured out a good translation for the sentence “His lamp not only caged the flame, it transformed it into a canary.”

We’re delighted too, and hope to learn what exactly happens to that metaphor when it is translated into Mandarin!