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Translation as Transhumance

Mireille Gansel

This half memoir, half philosophical treatise is a humanist meditation on translation.

Translated by Ros Schwartz
Foreword by Lauren Elkin

Mireille Gansel grew up in the traumatic aftermath of her family losing everything—including their native languages—to Nazi Germany. In the 1960s and 70s, she translated poets from East Berlin and Vietnam to help broadcast their defiance to the rest of the world.

Winner of a French Voices Award, Gansel’s debut illustrates the estrangement every translator experiences for the privilege of moving between tongues, and muses on how translation becomes an exercise of empathy between those in exile.

"A revelation." Kirkus Reviews

“Gansel’s slim and sensitive memoir, Translation as Transhumance, has just been elegantly translated into English by another outstanding translator, Ros Schwartz…there is a deeply insightful and humanistic approach to their work.”  —Bookwitty

“In this memoir of a translator’s adventures, Mireille Gansel shows us what it means to enter another language through its culture, and to enter the life of another culture through its language. A sensitive and insightful book, which illuminates the difficult, and often underestimated task of translation—and the role of literature in making for a more interconnected and humane world.” —Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language

“A history not just of twentieth century poetry but of that dark century itself, from the rise of the Nazis to the American bombing of North Vietnam, and yields too a rare insight into the nature of language and the splendors and limitations of translation.” —Gabriel Josipovici, What Ever Happened to Modernism?

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