translating books


Registered Senior Member
hi guys

there is a book that i have that i would love to translate in to Dutch or English, but to be honest, i do not know how to start...

I have tried several times to start and then gave up, mostly because it is a book written in 19 century style Russian, and neither Dutch, nor English can capture the same sentiment.

Anyway, does anyone have experience with translating books or knows what the legal steps you should take in order to have the right to translate one?

I translated a science book from German into English as my class project in second-year German in college. It was the absolutely most unrewarding activity I engaged in for many years. Sheer drudgery. I will never ever do that again. Not even from Esperanto, which I know much better than German.

As for capturing the sentiment, I hope all the members who think we should adopt a common language to enhance our ability to understand each other are reading this. Language shapes thought. You have different ideas in different languages.

Translating a great work of literature is an art, not a craft. It is absolutely essential that you be a great writer, not just a fluent translator. You are responsible for finding ways of expressing the author's sentiment when the language makes it difficult. All of the people who translate great books, such as those of Gabriel García Márquez, are gifted, not merely good.

If you want to translate a book legally and publish it, you have to get the permission of the copyright holder in the original language. That is usually the publisher. If you can contact the author and he likes you he may be able to help, but it is not his decision. So your first assignment is to convince the publisher that you are the right person for the job. They want to make a profit by selling the translation to the speakers of a new language, so they will only give the job to someone who is a genius. You have to show them that you are a genius.

You will not have the rights to your work. It will be owned by the publisher. They will either pay you a flat salary or royalties on the sales.

I would suggest translating the first page of two and showing them how gifted you are. Make them interested in hiring you for the job. But if you're already having trouble, this will not be easy.

Of course you will have to translate it into the 19th century version of the target language. You may have to do a lot of research for this project. Are you familiar with the English or Dutch of 150 years ago?
thank you so much! you have been extremely helpful :D

the biggest problem was time actually, because you have to get back into the sentiment of the story and the language. based on your advise, ill stick to Dutch, English is not my first language so there you go :)
thank you for the offer dragon :D but i am going to stick to Dutch, it is still the language in witch i can express myself the best, and freely.

but, it is a beautiful book, and i suggest everyone to read it :D And beside being a great book, it is an outstanding piece of the use of Russian language

here is the link to the online version if you are interested: