What is most needed for a good translation is probably linguistic skill. But another quality that I think is equally important, especially in the case of fiction, is a love full of personal bias. Put most radically, I would say that is all you need. What I expect above all in translations of my works is just that. A love full of bias is, in the face of this uncertain world, one of the things I adore the most, with a deeply biased love.
— Haruki Murakami, quoted in A Wild Haruki Chase
It is in this respect that translation is a political act. It is not simply a question of turning what is foreign into [one's own language], but of understanding that it should not be the same as we are. Translation should be a process of reception, not of assimilation.
— André Markowicz, on translating Dostoevsky to French
A single work [of translated literature] involves often hundreds of thousands of minute decisions. Many are inevitably compromises. The ideal translation would result in an English that perfectly replicated the original and at the same time read with as much natural vigor as though it had been born in English. But in reality the finished translation is likely to be more uneven — now eloquent, now pedestrian, now a perfect replication, now a little false to the original in meaning or rhythm or syntax or level of diction. A careful weighing of the many choices involved can nevertheless result in a wonderful translation. But great patience and of course great skill in writing are essential, not to speak of a good ear and a deep understanding of the original text.
Translation involves two languages; the translator is in constant danger of inventing a third that lies between, a treacherous nonexistent language suggested by the original and not recognized by the language into which the original is being transposed.
— Guy Davenport, in "Another Odyssey"
I suppose every kind of poetry has its overtones, things that are not spoken. But this is especially true of Japanese. The most important statement in the English language is ‘I love you.’ You translate that into Japanese, there’s no ‘I’ and there’s no ‘you.’