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Metaglossia: The Translation World
News about translation, interpreting, intercultural communication, terminology and lexicography - as it happens
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Translator donates materials owned by Helen Snow - People's Daily Online

Translator donates materials owned by Helen SnowPeople's Daily OnlineAn Wei, a 70-year-old Chinese translator, donated 304 pieces that were previously owned by American journalist and writer Helen Snow to the Memorial Hall of the Eighth Route Army...!
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Translator Michael Henry Heim's secret gift: more translations

Translator Michael Henry Heim's secret gift: more translations

CommentsMichael Henry Heim in 2001 (Stefano Paltera / Special to The Times)

By Hector Tobar
October 4, 2012, 2:54 p.m.
Earlier this week, The Times reported on the death of Michael Henry Heim, 69, one of the leading figures of the small, unseen and largely unknown circle of men and women who translate the world's literature into English. Heim, a UCLA scholar, spoke six language fluently and could read six more, and he translated works by authors such as Gunter Grass, Bertolt Brecht, Milan Kundera, Thomas Mann and Anton Chekhov into English.

But what the world didn't know until his death is that Heim had privately funded dozens more works by other translators. Heim was the anonymous benefactor whose gift of $734,000 created the PEN Translation Fund in 2003.

On his translation-focused blog Three Percent, publisher Chad Post revealed the news Tuesday. The New York-based PEN American Center followed up the next day with a press release confirming the donation.

With their gift, Heim and his wife Priscilla "created a legacy that recognizes the unique place of translators and translation in our literary life," Peter Godwin, president of PEN American Center, said in a statement. "He stood for that because he knew so well how translation serves us all by providing the key in our own language to all the world’s literature.”

Translating literature is a low-paid job that's also highly skilled and labor-intensive. And the PEN Translation Fund has helped pay for some 100 translations in a variety of languages, including Armenian, Basque, Estonian, Farsi, Lithuanian and Mongolian. As a lover of Latin American literature, I'm especially grateful to the fund for helping to bring the works of writers such as Roberto Bolaño and Horacio Castellanos Moya (arguably El Salvador's greatest living writer) to English-language readers.

So how did Heim, who certainly didn't get rich as a translator, come up with the money that established the fund? According to PEN, it began with the death benefit paid to his mother when Heim's father, a Hungarian composer and pastry chef serving in the U.S. military, was killed in 1945.!
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NEW YORK: Translator made $734,000 anonymous donation to PEN | Celebrities |

Translator made $734,000 anonymous donation to PEN
Published: October 3, 2012

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — An internationally celebrated translator also turns out to have been a secret patron of his craft.

Michael Henry Heim, who died at age 73 on Sept. 29, donated $734,000 to the PEN Translation Fund that helps support translations of foreign language works. Heim and his wife, Priscilla, established the PEN fund in 2003 and gave the money anonymously. The PEN American Center, of which Heim was a longtime member, announced Wednesday that he and his wife were the benefactors.

Heim was known for his translations of Thomas Mann, Milan Kundera and many other authors. PEN is a worldwide organization of writers and editors.

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