Friday, 13 March 2009

The Changes at SELTA - 2

I'm rescuing a couple of comments from an earlier post because I think they raise some issues that could do with further discussion, and if they are lost back in an earlier thread there's less likelihood of that happening. Also, in view of the fact that SELTA holds its spring meeting next week on 18th March, it may be that some members would like to give their feedback here.

I wrote...
What I have always wondered is whether at some stage (probably fairly early on) in SELTA's history it was actually taken over as a sort of cultural arm of the Swedish authorities,although this has never been officially acknowledged by any of the parties involved. The insistence on the use of the Swedish Embassy premises for the association's meetings always looked to me a bit suspect, and there seemed to be a very cosy relationship between the various Swedish cultural counsellors and the top SELTA membership.

Also, SELTA has traditionally been a place where various rivals in a rather restricted field meet one another, not always with positive results, and I'm wondering too whether this may be one of the factors underlying the present troubles in the group. The online forum seems to have brought some of that latent disharmony out into the open at last.
And Rod Bradbury replied...
The Swedish authorities obviously pay to keep the Swedish Book Review going. And although that is called SELTA's journal, it feels more like a shopfront (and a very useful one too) for Swedish publishers, with the Swedish Arts Council (formerly it was the Swedish Institute)in the background. In a sense, that arrangement is beneficial to both. Sweden gets a magazine on the cheap and SELTA gets a forum for members' translations/articles etc that it would otherwise not have access to. There might be a clash of interests somewhere, of course, as translators also need to earn a living, and there is a limited amount of literary translation work available. But SBR seems to be open to translators to present their work / new authors and so on, so perhaps one should be satisfied with the system as it is.

One of the original reasons for establishing SELTA was to have an organisation for the Swedes to do business with, a 'motpart'. That is how things are done in Sweden.
See also in this blog: The Changes at SELTA


Eric Dickens said...

There are indeed a few things I'd like to discuss online with members of SELTA, as I can't always get to meetings, and not every SELTA member attends them either. In fact, I don't think I've seen a recent list of SELTA members, as neither the names on the website or the Google chatsite appear to be all members.

I do not regard the numbered subjects below as controversial, which is why I am puzzled why there has been no discussion on the new Google chatsite, created when the one on the SELTA website itself was rather sluggish:

1) What are the advantages and disadvantages of turning SELTA into an all-Nordic set-up? All points of view should be aired.

2) What is the status of SELTA vis-à-vis official Swedish promotion of literature?

3) Ditto, vis-à-vis Swedish and Finland-Swedish publishing houses?

4) In what way are SELTA and the SBR financially dependent on Swedish subsidies, and has the new arrangement with Författarfonden, Kulturrådet, and so on, affected this relationship?

5) Is it possible to have more SELTA activities per year (e.g. talks by authors, get-togethers), or would this involve too much organising on the part of the committee?

6) Can the SELTA website be updated a little more, so as to include, for instance, detailed announcements of forthcoming events?

7) Is there any way that SELTA could help persuade British publishers to take on board more general novels, as opposed to crime novels?

8) Could there be more liaison with STiNA, our sister organisation in the United States, as the translators there do largely the same thing as we British literary translators from Swedish, grouped around SELTA, do.

I'm sure much of what I'm asking here will become clearer once the minutes of the SELTA meeting on 18th March 2009 are published.

David McDuff said...

I think that we will indeed have to wait until those minutes are published, as members of the SELTA committee still seem to be unwilling to come on here - or anywhere else - and express their views. Though I have a feeling that even those minutes may not contain very much on the points you've raised at all.

B.J. Epstein said...

At the most recent meeting, there was some discussed of the "NELTA" idea, as I have started referring to it. However, it seems that due to the SELTA constitution and the sources of financial support, SELTA must remain Swedish-only. That is not to say that those of us interested in a broader NELTA group couldn't organise that. I'd be keen on the idea and willing to help with organisational work.
Best wishes,

David McDuff said...

Thanks for your comment, BJ. I still feel that since there's already a de facto "Nordic" translators' organization in existence - its name is SELTA, and I've belonged to it for the better part of three decades - it shouldn't be so hard to extend it a little to include the translation of literature from the Nordic area in general. Particularly as, for the most part, the same people (i.e. the same translators) are involved. NELTA is really SELTA.

A broader SELTA "church" might help to get rid of some of the in-fighting and clique-forming that took place in earlier years, and open the organization up a bit. A move away from the Swedish Embassy as a venue for meetings could be a useful first step along that route.

What is the SELTA constitution, exactly? Has anyone ever seen it or read it?