Oleander Press’s Selected Poems of Xu Zhimo and Denial of the Translator

PictureOn their promotional webpage for the Selected Poems of Xu Zhimo 徐志摩, Oleander Press cites Andrew Hamilton’s praise for the volume’s “excellent translations.”

Hamilton’s praise, however, must not have registered enough with the Oleander editors, since nowhere in the book do they credit any translator, and on the copyright page the press–not the translator–asserts copyright over the translation.

I’ll quote The Complete Review on a similar case:

Folks, this is not okay. This is not acceptable. This is outrageous.
… any publisher that is commissioning ‘work for hire’ translations, or that retains the translation copyright, is not doing right by authors, translators, readers, or the literary culture in general.
I remind you that PEN explicitly advises translators: “We do not recommend accepting work-for-hire agreements”. No kidding. But translators often don’t have bargaining power; publishers with any sort of integrity shouldn’t even be suggesting it. (Alas, many, many still do — you know who you are, and shame on you.)

My sources tell me that Oleander, a Cambridge UK-based press, is only publishing this book to sell as a souvenir to tourists to their city (a demographic that in recent years has trended Chinese), where Xu famously attended classes for a year. I do not see this as a sufficient excuse for refusing to credit the translator, particularly when they advertise their publication of “excellent” versions.

1 thought on “Oleander Press’s Selected Poems of Xu Zhimo and Denial of the Translator

Comments are closed.