Review: Mouse or Rat?: Translation as Negotiation – by Prof Umberto Eco

This book is a collection of essays on the topic of translation. It is constantly exploring the role of the translator as a negotiator is the way he interprets texts for his target audience. Eco points towards an underlying perfect language that writer uses which transcends the individual tongues a work may be written in. What duty does the translator have in presenting an author’s true thoughts? The examples are plentiful and obviously abound from a man with a great deal of real-life experience as a translator. I found the in depth discussion of poetry translation a little over my head and very complicated but it gives you something to aim at as you learn the art and process of becoming a translator. The essays build on the work of other translation scholars and argues for and against their ideas and methods. I found that the text reads very well and is an ideal compliment to the more formal study one gets from course texts. I am sure that after a few rereads Umberto Eco’s message will reveal itself more fully to me.

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