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Publisher specializing in
translations moving to University of Illinois
Lynn, Humanities Editor
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The leading independent publisher specializing
in literary translations of contemporary international titles, mostly
fiction, will make its new home at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dalkey Archive Press, which has been in Normal, Ill., since 1992, will
take up residence on the Illinois campus in mid-December. Dalkey recently
cancelled its plans to settle at the University of Rochester early
next year, citing “unexpected circumstances.” Illinois
was one of several schools the press had been in discussions with before
deciding to move to Rochester. Dalkey had been looking for a new home
Also moving with Dalkey are its director, John O’Brien, several
staff members, the press’s journal, The Review of Contemporary
Fiction, and its magazine, Context: A Forum for Literary Arts and Culture.
Dalkey Archive Press began in 1980 in Chicago.
John Kulka, senior editor at Yale University Press and a member of
Dalkey’s board, called the U. of I.-Dalkey partnership “an
exciting opportunity for us to create in Champaign-Urbana a translation
center of global reach and importance. It is the logical extension
of Dalkey’s publishing program in literature in translation and
of the University of Illinois’ many excellent programs and departments
in foreign languages.”
Dalkey Archive Press publishes 30 titles a year in English and has
more than 300 books in print. It also has an annual Web site readership
of 600,000, and has received many honors, including having been chosen
by the New York Public Library and The Globe and Mail, published in
Toronto, as one of the best literary resources on the Internet. Among
its authors are winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the
National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
“Dalkey is a window through which we can study the diversity
of societies across the globe – a guiding principle of the university
as expressed in our strategic plan,” said Illinois Chancellor
The presence of the press will “highlight and link to excellence
in our humanities and language programs and will help us realize a
new curricular initiative in translation studies,” Herman said.
The press, which will remain an independent non-profit educational
organization, publishes literature series in American, British and
Scottish, Canadian, Eastern European, French, German and Austrian,
Greek, Irish, Japanese, Latin American, Netherlandic, Russian, Scandinavian,
Spanish, and Swiss fiction. It also publishes poetry, anthologies,
memoirs and biographies, criticism and non-fiction and a scholarly
“The University of Illinois is where we belong, and every indicator
is that it’s going to be a terrific relationship,” O’Brien
O’Brien gave several reasons for choosing Illinois as a new base.
“It is a first-rate research facility, and that extends from the faculty
through the Library. So many of the books that we have needed over the years
at Illinois State University (in Normal) have been found at the U. of I.”
With more than 10 million volumes, the U. of I. Library is the largest
public university collection in the world.
“Also, the foreign languages at Illinois are an enormous attraction because
our primary focus now is translation, so the potential for what we can be doing
with faculty and students and foreign languages is phenomenal.”
Illinois has been developing “what I think is going to be a first-rate
translation program that will have truly national and international
significance, so what Dalkey has been up to for a number of years and
what foreign languages at the U. of I. are doing are extremely compatible,” O’Brien
“This collaboration will lead the way to addressing
the enormous problem of how few translations from other countries
are published in this country and also will develop a new generation
of translators armed with both extensive translation experience,
practice in the business aspects of translation and a sound scholarly
Illinois’ new initiative to strengthen various areas of the humanities,
plus the addition of Dalkey Archive Press, should combine for “a
potential for this to become a signature program in the humanities
that will have tremendous national stature,” said William Adams,
associate chancellor at Illinois.
Under the terms of the agreement, the university will provide Dalkey
with space and “other support to facilitate relationships with
our academic programs,” Adams said.
As stated on its Web site, Dalkey’s aim is to make available
to readers “the finest works of world literature from the past
100 years” and “to serve as a permanent home for these
works, so that they will continue to be read by present and future
Among the titles in Dalkey’s fall 2006 catalog are “The
Confidence-Man: His Masquerade,” by Herman Melville; “Melancholy,” by
the Norwegian writer Jon Fosse; novels by Nicholas Mosley; and “Everyday
Life,” by the French novelist Lydie Salvayre.
According to Douglas Kibbee, professor of French at the U. of I. and
executive coordinator of the university’s foreign language units,
Dalkey’s move to the U. of I. is likely to “put us on the
map for making contemporary fiction from around the world available
to the English-speaking world.”
In addition to that kind of luster, the press’s presence and
expertise will coordinate with the university’s plans to offer
a graduate program in the field of translation.
Beginning as a certificate program and later becoming a master’s
and doctoral program, the translation program also will involve various
language departments and the English department’s creative-writing
The new program “will provide students a chance to be on the
editorial side of the translation business as well as to hone their
own translation skills,” Kibbee said.
Kibbee envisions the possibility that Dalkey press staff might work
with and supervise graduate assistants assigned to the press, offer
internships to qualified students from a variety of departments, and
support programs in the area of translation.
While it is somewhat rare to have two presses publishing simultaneously
on a college campus, several universities do have dual presses operating.
Such will be the case for Illinois when Dalkey arrives, since it also
has the U. of I. Press, a distinguished and prize-winning press that
specializes in scholarly works.
Willis Regier, the director of the U. of I. Press, knows of several
examples of literary publishers “migrating to universities and
becoming part of their publishing programs.”
“Most notable among them,” he said, are Swallow Press and
Ohio University Press, and Tri-Quarterly and Northwestern University Press.
“Our own press recently worked with Other Voices, the imprint of the
University of Illinois at Chicago’s English department, to publish Tod
Goldberg’s ‘Simplify.’ ”
Dalkey’s first location will be the Computer Applications Building
on Springfield Avenue in Urbana, which had housed the National Center
for Supercomputing Applications, now in a new building. Its permanent
home will be the former Printing Services South Building at 1805 S.
Wright St., Champaign.