on Literary Translation and Translators
Presented by John Ralston Saul, president of PEN International, Simona Škrabec, chair of the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee, and Émile Martel, president of PEN Québec, the Quebec Declaration on Literary Translation and Translators was adopted at 81st PEN International Congress in Quebec City, 2015.
PEN’s aim is to ensure that the Declaration can be read in the highest possible number of languages and we hope that other institutions and organisations will adopt its principles and help us to defend and disseminate them. The Quebec Declaration forms part of PEN International’s broad strategy to promote literary creativity and collaboration between cultures.
1. Literary translation is an art of passion. Promoting values of openness, acting for peace and freedom and against injustice, intolerance and censorship, translation invites a dialogue with the world.
2. All cultures are not equal when it comes to translation. Some cultures translate by choice, others by obligation. Translation is a key to the protection of languages and cultures.
3. Respectful of authors and original texts, translators are nevertheless creators in their own right. They seek not only to reproduce a literary work but to move the work forward, to expand its presence in the world. Translators are not simply messengers: though they speak for others, their voices are also their own. In particular, they act in favour of cultural diversity by remaining loyal to marginalized authors, literary styles and social groups.
4. The rights of translators must be protected. Governments, publishers, the media, employers—all must respect the status and needs of translators, give prominence to their names, and ensure equitable remuneration and respectful working conditions—in all forms of print and digital media.
5. The physical safety and freedom of expression of translators must be guaranteed at all times.
6. As creative writers with specific skills and knowledge, translators must be shown respect and consulted for all questions related to their work. Translations belong to those who create them.
Translated by Sherry Simon