Finding Works in Translation

The Odyssey - Translations

Translations of The Odyssey found in OneSearch.

What do Agatha Christie, William Shakespeare, Stephen King, Oscar Wilde, and Danielle Steele have in common?  According to UNESCO’s Online Index Translationum, they are among the top 50 authors whose works have been translated into other languages.

A valuable reference source for exploring translations from many languages is The Oxford Guide to English Literature in Translation (available in print at the GC Library and online via the New York Public Library).  This volume covers individual texts, writers, genres, and national literatures.  It also includes scholarly essays exploring translation norms and criticism, the role of gender in translation, and other topics.

Another excellent reference title is Michael Orthofer’s The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction which is available as an e-book through the GC Library.  The guide is arranged by region, country, and language and covers the fiction of individual nations, cultures, and peoples.

Following are tips for finding translated works in library catalogs like CUNY’s OneSearch and WorldCat:

  • To identify translations of a specific work into English, search on the author’s name and the title of the work in the original language.  Then filter the search results to English.
  • To see if a work has been translated into another language, search for the work by its original title and author, then filter by language to check for translations.
  • To find anthologies, collections, surveys, and bibliographies of translated works in a library catalog, try a subject search formatted like these examples using Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):

[Any Language] Literature–Translations into [Any Language]

Latin American literature–Translations into English
French literature–Translations into Korean
Spanish literature–Translations into Chinese
Classical literature–Translations into English

You can also search databases to find works in translation.  The online edition of UNESCO’s Index Translationum covers translations of works since 1979.  (The database is no longer maintained, but it remains useful for discovering translated works in many languages.)  Print volumes cover the years 1932-1986 and are available at the GC and NYPL.  And Publishers Weekly’s Translation Database covers all works of fiction, poetry, children’s books, and nonfiction translated into English and published in the U.S. after January 2008, with the exclusion of retranslations of previously published books.

In every case, when you would like to read a title that is not available at the Graduate Center Library, you can request it via Interlibrary Loan and we’ll borrow it for you from another institution.

For additional resources and suggestions for finding works in translation, see the Translations page in our Beyond Wikipedia: Background & Reference Sources guide.

Please contact us with any questions.  Happy researching.

About the Author

Donna Davey is an Adjunct Reference and Scholarly Communication Librarian at the Graduate Center Library.