Слово живое и мертвое. Антология - Nora Gal, Нора Галь The first half of this tome is the actual book by Nora Gal; the rest is made up of articles by her, and letters (which I skipped).

So, regarding her actual book: Awesome. I'm so with Gal on many of the matters she brings up, especially when it comes to chancellery language (which so many Russians seem to think makes a text oh-so-serious and well written) and awkward direct translations. I sincerely wish all people writing in Russian (i.e. natives primarily) would take the time to read this book and then start creating sentences that make sense and that don't need a 5 minute analysis to figure out what belongs where and who the hell the subject is. I loved the little bit about scientists and how they write. I want to send that to all scientists whose articles I've read.

What becomes frighteningly clear from Gal's book is how much work there is behind translation. True translation. One has to remember that this book was written during the Soviet Union, and today, when everything is profit based, I doubt there are that many people left translating the way she and her colleagues did. I'm not talking about translating legal documents or manuals for TVs or any such things, but about translating literature. I'm a newbie translator, but fiction I only ever translate at University, and (unfortunately) usually not into the language I'm supposed to translate into ( --> my native). When I do translate it, I take certain liberties because I want to make it sound nice in the language I'm translating it into. Gal repeats it again and again, translation of literature is not just about finding the corresponding word, it's about finding the corresponding style and spirit.

The great part of her book consists of what not to do, how not to translate, awful direct translations, chancellery style where it should absolutely not be, foreign words that serve no purpose, etc. That part was easy to get through. It gets more difficult when she starts talking about GOOD translations, partly because she talked almost exclusively about books I haven't read, giving snippets here and there and passionately showing how great it had been translated into Russian by a real, skilled translator. Not knowing the plot of the books (Hemingway, Shaw, Joyce, etc.) made it difficult to follow, and considering I want to read these books one day, I didn't want to come across spoilers. However, I have read The Pearl, and the chapter talking about it was magical.