Levine, herself an able and well-regarded translator of Latin masters such as Julio Cortázar, G. Cabrera Infante, Manuel Puig, and Severo Sarduy, argues that translation, among other things, is an act of subversion. More significantly, she emphasizes the complex, collaborative relationship between author and translator.
Levine explains what made her write this book:
Writing about translation made me even more keenly aware that the reader could gain a more intimate knowledge of the literary work, a and of the languages and cultures involved in the dialogue between original and translation, if only he or she knew how translation decisions were made, and how possible choices were finally set aside for what were considered better solutionsEdith Grossman, herself a masterful translator, calls The Subversive Scribe an important and original book and adds:
What she has to say about the linguistic, personal, scholarly, and imaginative elements that the translator must bring to that process is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of translation in particular and creativity in general.In so doing, Suzanne Jill Levine displays the nimble mind and active imagination that’s frequently on display on her weblog.