This Little Art

This Little Art

Kate Briggs
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Both an ode to Barthes and to translation, This Little Art offers a unique insight into the 'lived-out, unabstracted practice' of translation.

Part-essay and part-memoir, This Little Art is a manifesto for the practice of literary translation. Taking her experience translating Roland Barthes' lectures at the College de France as her starting point, Kate Briggs offers a portrait of translation as a compelling, complex and formative activity. Building on Barthes' late work, Briggs explores the philosophical and aesthetic facets of translation alongside its practical implications. Dealing in turn with the controversial translations of Thomas Mann by Helen Lowe-Porter and Dorothy Bussy's translations of Andre Gide, Briggs argues for an understanding of the history of translation as a form of domestic, feminized labour. In what ways do notions of care and literary service imbue our understanding of translation?

'Not so much a demystification as a re-enchantment of the practice of literary translation, that maddening, intoxicating 'little' art which yokes humility and hubris, constraint and creativity- in Briggs's passionate telling, you can practically hear the sparks fly.' - Deborah Smith, translator of Han Kang and winner of the Man Booker International Prize in 2016

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