I experimented with Tableau Public to look at translations and anthologies by country and language. It was fascinating learning which Gallant stories were not only translated the most but had the most diverse array of translations by language.
Sometimes, a work might have multiple translations, but those translations could all be in the same language–as is the case for “A Fairly Good Time” and “My Heart is Broken”. Both works have two different French translations but none in any other language.
“Overhead in a Balloon” has the greatest number of translations, topping out at six different translations. Not only that, it has spurred the greatest diversity of translations. It has been translated into four European languages: two in French, two in Dutch, one in Italian, and one in Spanish.
Although there are four different translated works of “Pegnitz Junction”, it has only been translated into French and German. This is in contrast to other works who also have four different translated publications: “From the Fifteenth District”, which has French, German, and Swedish versions, and “Varieties of Exile”, which has been translated into Chinese, French, and Italian.
The darkly humorous “From the Fifteenth District” is one of Gallant’s most accessible reads, so it should come as no surprise that it is one of her more translated works. The comedy in the inversion of perspective from the living to the dead is an aspect of the story that could translate well, even despite linguistic or cultural differences.
Meanwhile, the themes of immigration, cultural relocation, and alienation embedded in “Varieties of Exile” are universal. Such themes would be most appealing for readers actively seeking out literature from other countries, so it makes sense why it is one of the more translated stories of Gallant’s.
One reason for “Pegnitz Junction” having been translated only into French and German could be that it is set in Germany and it is a story best understood with background knowledge of the history of Germany post-WWII to contextualize it.
Another factor could be the difficulty of the material; while “Pegnitz Junction” is expertly crafted, it is a challenging and, at times, confusing read. There are many unexpected and sometimes barely detectable interspersions of thoughts from different characters, while the fragmentary nature of the narrative could result in a challenging translation process.
However, if we look at translated works by country of publication, “Pegnitz Junction” has been translated and published in three different countries–the same number of countries as “From the Fifteenth District” and “Varieties of Exile–despite having only been translated into French and German.
A closer look at the data reveals that it is because one of the French translations of “Pegnitz Junction” was published in Canada. “Pegnitz Junction” actually reached a broader and more varied readership through its translated works than I had initially gathered based on the organization of the data by translation languages.
Overall, this data visualization uncovered notable insights into the publishing process behind translated works. It reveals to us which of Gallant’s works were deemed by publishers to be the most broadly appealing and translatable across different countries.