09 October 2008

Previous pronouncements

Reading notes on Translation/History/Culture: A Sourcebook, ed. by André Lefevere

~ p. 1: "Let us not forget that translations are made by people who do not need them for people who cannot read the originals."

~ p. 2: "It may be a sobering thought that some of the masterpieces of world literature, such as Cervantes' Don Quixote, profess to be translations of lost originals, i.e. that they refer to non-existent texts in order to derive some kind of legitimacy which, it is felt, would otherwise not be present to the same extent."

~ p. 13: Anne Dacier (from the intro to her translation of the Iliad, pub. 1699):
Bad translations render the letter without the spirit in a low and servile imitation. Good translations keep the spirit without moving away from the letter. They are free and noble imitations that turn the familiar into something new.
~ p. 17: Anne Louise Germaine de Staël:
The most eminent service one can render to literature is to transport the masterpieces of the human spirit from one language into another.
~ p. 25: Goethe:
That is how we should look upon every translator: he is a man who tries to be a mediator in this general spiritual commerce and who has chosen it as his calling to advance the interchange. Whatever you may say about the deficiencies of translation, it is and remains one of the most important and dignified enterprises in the general commerce of the world. The Qur'an says: "God has given every nation a prophet in its own language." Every translator is a prophet among his own poeple.
~ p. 34: Ulrich von Willamowitz-Moellendorff:
True translation is metempsychosis.
~ p. 36: Nicolas Perrot d'Ablancourt (his translations were the first to be called "belles infidèles"):
Consequently, I do not always stick to the author's words, nor even to his thoughts. I keep the effect he wanted to produce in mind, and then I arrange the material after the fashion of our time.
~ p. 37: Jacques Delille:
I have always thought of translation as a way to enrich a language. If you write an original work in a particular language you are likely to exhaust that language's own resources, if I may say so. If you translate, you import the riches contained in foreign languages into your own, by means of a felicitous commerce.
~ p. 56: Shelley (from "A Defence of Poetry"):
Sounds as well as thoughts have relation both beween each other and towards that which they represent, and a perception of the order of these relations has always been found connected with a perception of the order of the relations of thought.
~ p. 64: Pope (from the preface to his translation of the Iliad, pub. 1715):
I know no Liberties one ought to take, but those which are necessary for transfusing the Spirit of the Original, and Supporting the Poetical Style of the Translation: and I will venture to say, there have not been more Men misled in former times by a servile dull Adherence to the Letter, than have been deluded in ours by a chimerical insolent Hope of raising and improving their Author.
~ p. 78: Goethe:
There are two maxims in translation: one requires that the author of a foreign nation be brought across to us in such a way that we can look on him as ours. The other requires that we ourselves should cross over into what is foreign and adapt ourselves to its conditions, its peculiarities, and its use of language.
~ p. 79: Schlegel:
Literalness is a long way from fidelity. Fidelity means that the same or similar impressions are produced, for these are the heart of the matter.
~ p. 171: Ulrich von Willamowitz-Moellendorff (from the preface to his translation of Euripides' Hippolytus, pub. 1925):
This is how it is: whoever wants to translate a poem must understand it.

No comments: