I started Angel Classics some years ago, having come to the conclusion, as an editor and translator, that much foreign classic literature tended to be passed over by publishers in favour of what was more modern and usually less lasting, and that a high proportion of published translations were poor or outdated. Angel has been determinedly kept small and selective, concentrating on authors and works, fiction and verse, not readily or adequately available in English. At first hardback editions were produced simultaneously with paperback, then paperback originals only. The current list does not contain all the titles that Angel has published; some have been subsequently subleased for a wider market. and some are out of print.
Improvement in English standards of translation has been spurred in the present century by an increase in prizes and funding, and today translations make up a distinctly higher proportion of books published than when Angel was launched in 1982. But English-speaking readers are still missing out on a host of writers who often turn out to be decidedly to their taste. The Angel list contains not only well-known classic foreign writers but also exciting discoveries among the lesser-known, from nineteenth-century German novellas to Russian post-revolutionary Gothic tales. All Angel titles contain absorbing introductions or afterwords and most have end notes which draw the reader into the original author’s world.
Angel’s translators include writers and poets as well as literary and linguistic specialists. Four of them have won translation prizes and others have been runners-up. All are at one with their chosen authors and able to capture their individual flavour.
It’s sometimes said that a given writer is untranslatable. We have known more than one university teacher who first thought it impossible to teach a certain poet in translation but had a change of mind on reading the translation(s) published by Angel. Writers and the enjoyment of reading them can survive translation – provided it is the best translation.