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Translators...

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16 Feb 2014, 09:42 PM
Post: #1
Over the last couple of days I've read a couple of Commissario Montalbano books. These are from a rather excellent series of books by Andrea Camilleri

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describing the adventures of a relationship-adverse Sicilian detective. The main set of books have been translated by the American poet Stephen Sartarelli. He makes the books very readable, but also peppers them with explanatory notes about the translation and background that may not be evident to non-Italians.

I read August Heat

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(the tenth in the main series) where between them Camilleri and Sartarelli make the intense heat of mid-August in Vigata almost palpable. Very much up to the usual standard - Sartarelli had even managed to translate some puns so that they still worked in English.

I went straight on to read the recently published Montalbano's First Case

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which was translated by Gianluca Rizzo and Dominic Siracusa. There was a noticeable difference. The translation is good and easily read but there were some odd phrases - for example, there are repeated mention of the town's "main drag". Then there was the use of the occasional word that was technically correct but had connotations that didn't quite match the context - "He rummaged around a street lined with trees..."

Whilst I missed Sartarelli's footnotes, I ended up savouring some of the turns of phrase in "Montalbano's First Case". Both books recommended.
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