Thursday, September 03, 2009

Translated Crime Fiction Survey

I recently received an email from a student:
I'm a Publishing Masters student based in London. I'm writing a dissertation on translated crime fiction. As part of my research, I have created a reader survey. I am wondering whether you would be willing to flag it up on your blog.
The survey is quite painless and will only take a couple of minutes. This is the website to enter your answers.


Maxine Clarke said...

I had a go at the survey. Would be interesting to hear about the results - is the student going to let you know/send?

Philip Amos said...

A master's in publishing? Hmmm. This could explain a great deal and is really not to be encouraged, but I am a kind and generous man, as everyone knows, so I carried out this pointless exercise. However, if the perpetrator thereof or perhaps some accomplice happens to check on the response here, I should mention I almost aborted at question 12. Five of those seven elements are very much of equal importance to me -- in fact, sine all seven, non -- so the fact that one cannot give equal ranking skews an important factor rather badly, I think.

Kenneth said...

I also filled out the survey and would like to see the results. I think the student should have asked which country the surveyee is from, maybe how many books are read per year by crime fict vs. "literary" fiction. Perhaps others. I also struggled with the ranking 7 elements question and would probably submit a different response tomorrow, and the next day, and the next...

Dorte H said...

As there is no box to indicate your nationality, she probably expects participants to be British. I´d better not answer then.

Unknown said...

Hello everyone. Firstly, thank you Karen for putting the survey up! I had 7 responses yesterday, innocently logged on to see if it had crept up to 8 or 9... Wham! 31. Marvelous.

Philip... haha ... I agree, a master's in publishing may not be advisable, but here we are. It seems somewhat off to label something a pointless exercise when you don't know what hypothesis the perpetrator wants to test. Have a look at the chapter 'Dissidence' in Lawrence Venuti's The Translator's Invisibility to get a clearer idea of what I was after.

I did had some misgivings about question 12, so thank you for clarifying them... Do you mind if I quote you in my evaluation ... same for Kenneth. I originally wrote this questionnaire for three crime reading groups in the UK and only put it online as an afterthought... hence no "where are you from". But, again, noted, noted.

Maxine ... the survey is a small part of the whole project. I think surveymonkey allows me to make the survey results generally available so I will post that link here or forward it to Karen when the survey is closed.

Many many thanks to all for a great response!

Paul Engles

Unknown said...

Sorry, that has to be the 2nd (2008) edition of Venuti's book. I really recommend it.

I actually can't think of any reason not to share the results now: Results.

The first seven responses pre-date the Euro Crime blog post. If anyone would like to add any comments about any of the questions raised, not raised or badly raised in the questionnaire, I'd be very interested to hear what you have to say.

Kerrie said...

Too much left out - no Icelandic translation. What happened to Fred Vargas?
When you don't allow contributors any "other" sections, then you run the risk of their disgruntlement I'm afraid.
Seems heavily weighted to Italian translations.
Question 12 was dreadful
There seemed to an assumption that all people doing the survey are from one country - certainly not from Oz.

Philip Amos said...

Very good of you to take my impish comment in such good part, Paul, and of course you may quote me. I doubt not that there is point to your thesis -- my cynicism comes to the fore here rather because my horror at the state of 'education' in the Western world meets my fury at the state of publishing. I was a touch disingenuous above, for in truth the university I know most intimately has offered an MPub for many years -- significantly, about the same number of years over which the publishing business has been going down the tubes and, yes, there is a connection, rather as there was a connection between the arrival of the doctorate in architectonics and the pathetic acoustics of the modern concert hall. Anyway, mustn't go on too much here. The only point for me is contained in this question -- if I kindly allow that this flood of MPubs did not contribute to the decline of publishing (which I don't, of course), is it conversely going to lead to the return of the editor -- real ones, Paul, real ones, of the sort for whom mourning started in the late 70s and who were nigh extinct twenty years later? Are the publishing execs who have replaced them going to stop buying appalling and often money-losing rubbish just to satiate their own egos with the attendant publicity? Indeed, may we have an end to the whole notion, nicked from movies, of the publishing exec as 'auteur': "A Lucy Cholmondeley-Bagshaw Book". Hideous. And I summon that name with mischief aforethought, for some of us do know that a lot of pubexecs are hired in exactly the same way as are City investment Henrys and Henriettas, and for exactly the same reason Jackie O very oddly became an 'editor' at Viking many years ago -- connections,nothing but. Will they stop buying fine stuff, even if by accident, and then giving it no publicity whatsoever? Or the mediocre and touting it as the greatest writing since the Swan fell off the perch? Shall we see an end to idiotic and vacuous puffery on covers? And an end to mindless and misleading quotations from other writers with a sideline as rent-a-puffers, said quotation often being the only part of the book that shows signs of editing. Might the inside flap one again be informative not t more puffery, and perhaps written by someone who is fully literate? Copy editors would be the very people to do that, as they would actually have read the book, though first they have to be brought back into the business -- real copy editors, I mean, ones on salary, not those stay-at-home mums with English degrees in Luton or Peoria earning a pittance going through mss shipped to them from New York or London. And that brings to mind...ah, well, enough. I must say, by the by, that I do not in particular have crime fiction in mind in mentioning these wee points. Pubexecs, money and short deadlines also, I much suspect, underlie the rash of increasingly shoddy, and of late sometimes plagiarism plagued, works written for popular consumption by historians not very good at their craft but marvels when it comes to self-promotion.

And so you see, Paul, none of this is your fault, I am sure, and what you say about your thesis does, in fact, pique my interest, but my cynical old heart (and who is there more cynical than an old idealist?) tells me that it, and others of its ilk, is not actually going to translate -- ahem -- into the really quite radical changes I, at any rate, think necessary in the business, and the improvements needed in what I suspect is known as 'the product' and in the presentation thereof.

By the by, re question 12 again, I should also be on the alert for skewing stemming from the fact that 'pace' is the odd man out, per se different from the other six, and a lot of people trying to come up with a ranking may well put it low on the list for that reason alone. I wish you very well indeed with the thesis, and I should be interested in learning more about it and the results of this in time.

kathy d. said...

Just did the survey.

I echo questions here:
Why isn't Icelandic listed? (a favorite author of mine is Arnaldur Indridasson, raced through the four books the library had, badgered them to get the fifth).
Why isn't Fred Vargas listed as a translated author one has read?
I adore her writing, approach it as carefully and intensely as great chocolate cake, savoring every morsel.
Kathy D.

Unknown said...

Why isn't Iceland listed :( I forgot: I thought they spoke Danish.
Fred Vargas is French I think, I was only asking for Swedish and Italian authors because I limited the study to those countries.