French embraces the abstract much better than English

You find translation is a different skill from just reading something in a foreign language and understanding it says George Miller

Translator George Miller explains the process of turning French-language novels into English ones, in conversation with The Connexion

In-demand translator George Miller (pictured above) has worked out he has translated close to a million words for Le Monde Diplomatique’s English-language edition over the years.

French author Delphine de Vigan told Connexion she is lucky to have a translator like Mr Miller who knows her style well and gives an accurate portrayal of her work. His latest translation of her book Loyalties was published in January.

He studied French at Oxford, and spent many years working as an editor for Oxford University Press and Granta Books.

 

How did you get into literary translation?

I studied French at university and then went into publishing so I wasn’t using my language professionally, but I kept it up by reading and visiting France.

When I was working at Granta, I had a book which I really wanted to publish and I needed to do it quickly but I did not have a translator so I thought I would do it myself.

It was following 9/11 and was about Al-Qaeda and their sympathisers in Paris written by an Algerian journalist, Mohamed Sifaoui, who had infiltrated those circles undercover and was writing about their beliefs. The book was doing well in France. So I thought, ...

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