Friday, 17 October 2014

Oldies but goodies

It's fifty-five years old, but I still really like this description of what good translation feels like:
If [the translator] does see and hear clearly and fully, he (sic) will hold the original poem in a sort of colloidal suspension in his mind – I mean a fluid state in which the syntax, all the rigid features of the original dissolve, and yet its movements and inner structures persist and operate. It is out of this that he must make another poem that will speak, or sing, with his own voice’
Jackson Mathews, 'Third Thoughts on Translating Poetry', in Reuben Brower (ed. ) On Translation, Harvard University Press, 1959, pp.66-77

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