The Linguist

The Linguist 58,2-June/July 2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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@Linguist_CIOL FEATURES Rosie Goldsmith, founder of the European Literature Network, on working together for a common goal – and why we should all vote for European literature T en years ago, I set up a one-woman operation called the European Literature Network (ELNet). The idea was simple: to support European Literature Night, an annual event created that same year at the British Library, which I had been asked to judge, host and organise in collaboration with the European Commission in the UK, European cultural organisations, the British Council and Arts Council England (ACE). There was a buzz around literature in translation and high-profile engagement. 'Brexit' had not been invented, nor had 'Europe' been politically hijacked. There was, however, very little investment or joined-up thinking among UK translators, publishers, booksellers and festival organisers – and very little media coverage. The foreign literature market seemed chaotic, London-centric and turned in on itself. I wanted to help. In 2009, I left the BBC after 20 years to make my way as a freelance arts journalist. I was a linguist, BBC-trained in foreign affairs, media and the arts. I proudly wore my belief in European culture and cooperation on my sleeve. As a founding member of BBC Radio 4's EuroFile, Crossing Continents and World in Your Ear – which I went on to present along with Front Row and Open Book – I could bring valuable skills to the promotion of European literature and languages in Britain. Surely everyone loved them, as I did? Surely everyone believed in 'Europe', or just needed nudging in that direction? Fearless beginnings Ignorance made me fearless. I could, I believed, run my little network alongside a glittering career reporting on art exhibitions, literary prizes and fashion frontrows. I had no idea then that ELNet would end up being one of the most important, time-consuming and underpaid activities of my personal and professional life. I had no idea how many brave but bruised missionaries were trying to plough those same rock-hard fields. From the outset, my goal was to help promote and publicise European literature in the UK: to introduce readers from Crewe to Cornwall to great writers from Austria to Spain; to inspire publishers to create attention-grabbing covers and invest in promoting and selling their translations; to create well-structured, well-presented events, as well as motivational workshops on publicity and reviewing; to bring foreign fiction to libraries and schools – to excite people. With no money at all, I organised ELNet networking meetings and invited anyone I thought could help or benefit: booksellers, translators, artists, BBC colleagues, literature directors at the British Council, ACE staff. They all came. At one meeting we squeezed 80 movers and shakers into Europe House (which offered the space for free), and talked, connected and made things happen for three hours. You need a publisher for your Polish translation? Sure! Have you heard of Peirene Press, a new publisher focusing on short Literary hero

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