BOOK RELEASE: "Humanistic Capitalism" by Sayeg & Balera

A book I have recently finished translating has just hit the virtual shelves. It is called "Humanistic Capitalism," written by Ricardo Sayeg  and Wagner Balera and published by KBR Editora Digital. It is now available through Amazon in both Kindle and Print-on-Demand formats.

This was my second Portuguese-to-English book translation, but the first of an academic nature.  While I do work with technical translations with my corporate clients, I had never gone this deep into the technicalities of Capitalism, economy, and financial matters.

Without a doubt, this became one of my most challenging translations to date. The amount of research involved was astounding, but the joy of learning so much really balanced things out. In addition to researching about the subject, I also had to do some heavy "data mining."

I'll explain: Sayeg and Balera quote many books written by political and social scientists, philosophers, novelists, popes and other religious figures, and public authorities, including President Obama. Since their quotes were all in Portuguese, I had to hunt down the original material, because doing a back translation into English simply wouldn't do.

It would be highly impractical (and expen$ive!) for me to buy all the reference books just to copy a couple of words, a sentence, or a paragraph. Spending endless hours going from one library to another would also cut into my translation time. What I had to do then was enter a combination of keywords I could see in the Portuguese version and try to find good matches through Google.

Of course some results were very easy to find, including books that are in the public domain (Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas, for example) and all the Encyclicals written by popes and made available in English at the Vatican site. Some others were relatively easy, thanks to the "Look Inside" feature facilitated by Amazon, which allowed me to browse through a few pages to find the exact words I was looking for.

I wasn't as lucky when it came to rare books that are only a hit in the academia... I could only find papers that were written about those books, but couldn't use the paraphrasing of a student's thesis as the basis for my translation. That was when I had to resort to my secret weapon and contact a friend who works at a university library, so that he could look it up for me (Thanks Jason!) I sent him my back translation and the approximate page where he would probably be able to find those excerpts, judging by the pages indicated in the footnotes of the book I was translating.

All in all, it was a challenging and intense project, but a satisfying one, and I have definitely learned a lot not only about the subject matter, but also about the translation process involved in translating academic books.

Here's the official synopsis, for those of you who are curious about it:

The trajectory of human thought hints at certain historical facts that somehow have a decisive influence on the path ahead. Presently, in our absolute post-modern times, the notion and implications of a Risk Society have properly infiltrated social thought, albeit with a degree of perplexity and resistance. It starts with a seeming contraposition: Capitalism can be humanistic. It is worth mentioning that the act of generating wealth is not solely aimed at accumulating financial resources. Therefore, the authors perused the large list of references that includes both classical and contemporary thinkers who, from different perspectives, sought to reflect upon the ethical implications that must subject Capitalism to the humanist's purposes for which Risk Society believes it is destined.

On a side note, as announced earlier this year, I'm also working on a novel translation that explores both Capitalism and Humanism. Stay tuned for news about it later this year :-)


RAFA LOMBARDINO is a translator and journalist from Brazil who lives in California. She has been working as a translator since 1997 and, in 2011, started to join forces with self-published authors to translate their work into Portuguese and English. In addition to acting as content curator at eWordNews, she also runs Word Awareness, a small network of professional translators, and coordinates two projects to promote Brazilian literature worldwide: Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories (CBSS) and Cuentos Brasileños de la Actualidad (CBA).