In the books section this week, Charles Mudede takes a look at a new translation of Walter Benjamin's Berlin Childhood Circa 1900:
The translation is by Carl Skoggard, a writer who once worked with Matthew Stadler, the brains behind Publication Studio, at Nest magazine. The publisher's website describes Skoggard as a "self-taught scholar" and lover of German literature. Just over half of his book is commentary, an afterword, and acknowledgments. These sections contain most of the book's gold and are the main reason it's worth purchasing. The actual translation of Childhood, however, is not the best one on the market.
Skoggard is a very good writer, and his translation would be fine if it weren't for the fact that Howard Eiland's translation in Harvard University Press's Selected Writings, Volume 3 is incomparable...With Skoggard's translation, the plainer the passage, the more he matches with Eiland's translation (this is to be expected). But during the magical passages, the passages that reveal a dazzling image or an enchanted world, Skoggard and Eiland definitely part ways.
If you care about translation, you should go read the whole thing.