Alexander mavrocordato

The power of the translator to break nations

No one ever raised a statue to a translator, disgruntled adepts of that art sometimes complain. I beg to differ, since I’ve seen one: the handsome monument to the 12th-century scholar-physician Judah ibn Tibbon, ‘patriarch of translators’, beneath the Alhambra in Granada. But if the brokers between languages and cultures still lack many bronze or marble tributes, the books that celebrate their calling have begun to pile higher. A few of them retaliate against the downgrading of translation skills with a mystagogic tone which repels curious civilians. Which makes Anna Aslanyan’s wide-angled and reader-friendly tour of her profession’s many roles, in literature, politics, law, diplomacy, business and data science, all