நியு யார்க் ரிவ்யூ ஆஃப் புக்ஸ் கட்டுரையில் இருந்து:
That there would be no English literary tradition without Greek and Latin is almost axiomatic. The Earl of Surrey invented blank verse by translating Virgil; Milton trained to be Milton by translating Latin poets, then translating his own verse into Latin; when Auden wanted to adapt Marianne Moore’s syllabics to his own sense of line, he turned to Alkman’s meter (alcaics, also adapted into Latin by Horace); and to this day, reading classics at Oxbridge is a conventional start to a poetry career. Virginia Woolf’s 1925 essay “On Not Knowing Greek” is incandescent on the radical nature of the Greeks in particular: these ancient people, who transacted their lives out of doors in the sunshine (unlike northerners), admit us to a vision of the earth unravaged, the sea unpolluted, the maturity, tried but unbroken, of mankind. Every word is reinforced by a vigour which pours out of olive-tree and temple and the bodies of the young.
Not only do they transmit vigor, they are “decided, ruthless, direct.” “There is the compactness of expression. Shelley takes twenty-one words in English to translate thirteen words of Greek.” But above all, “Greek is the impersonal literature…. These are the originals, Chaucer’s the varieties of the human species.” Innocence, vigor, concision, impersonality: although we do not even know what the language sounded like, it vitaminizes our spirits like an impossibly distant but inextinguishable Elysian sun. A thousand academic pundits could not rationalize a return to a classical curriculum, but the proof is in our poets.
In 2011 Alice Oswald made a startling contribution to the long tradition of Homeric literature in English: Memorial, a version of the Iliad stripped of its narrative—no gods, no Helen, no heroes. What was left after this massive erasure was a double list-poem itemizing the manner of death of every warrior mentioned by name (two hundred and fourteen, by my count), ending with Hector; and an interpolated translation of all the epic similes. In her introduction to the book she called it a “bipolar poem,” contrasting lamentation with lyric, violent death with sublime nature, justified in part by the Greeks’ own practice of antiphonal dirges, in which a professional poet led the rites versus a chorus of women “offering personal accounts of the deceased.” The effect on the page was somber and static, or should I say electrostatic: a bardo state charged with small shocks of sentience at every turn. It really did give the world a new and different Homer.
Memorial was and was not a departure for Oswald. She, yes, studied classics at Oxford. Her style strives for those Greek virtues of innocence, vigor, impersonality. Yet her work was built on the foundations of a regional lyricism, centered on southwest England.
ஒரு மொழியாக்கம் எப்படி இருக்கும்? – குறுங்கதை மொழிபெயர்ப்பு « அங்கிங்கெனாதபடி
டிம் பார்க்ஸ் எழுத்துக்களில்
are there other pleasures to be had from Franzen, pleasures available to the foreigner reading in translation?
the characters only exist as an alibi for what is really a journalistic and encyclopedic endeavor to list everything American. Where it’s not objects it’s behavior patterns:
In the days after 9/11, everything suddenly seemed extremely stupid to Joey. It was stupid that a “Vigil of Concern” was held for no conceivable practical reason, it was stupid that people kept watching the same disaster footage over and over, it was stupid that the Chi Phi boys hung a banner of “support” from their house, it was stupid that the football game against Penn State was canceled, it was stupid that so many kids left Grounds to be with their families (and it was stupid that everybody at Virginia said “Grounds” instead of “campus”).
It’s interesting that in this passage the Italian translator has to leave words like “football” (as opposed to soccer), then “Grounds,” and “campus,” in English. This alerts us to a larger problem with translating Franzen; these are not just lists of American things and things American people do, but also—and crucially—of the very words Americans use. Italian has no word for Foosball, nor does it have either the object or the denomination “mechanized recliners,” so that the translator is obliged to explain (and the reader still won’t be able to picture this aberration in all its ugliness).
In Lawrence’s Women in Love Ursula reflects that she’s not even tempted to get married. Her sister Gudrun agrees and carries on, “Isn’t it an amazing thing … how strong the temptation is, not to!” Lawrence comments: “They both laughed, looking at each other. In their hearts they were frightened.” A recent Italian edition of the book offers something that, translated back into English, would give, “They both burst out laughing, looking at each other. But deep in their hearts they were afraid.”
Experimenting over the years I’ve realized that if I ask a class of students to translate this into Italian approximately half will introduce that “but.” It appears to be received wisdom that one doesn’t laugh if one is afraid; hence when Lawrence puts the two things together, translators feel a “but” is required to acknowledge the unusualness of this state of affairs.
Having made hurried love to Birkin in the back room of an inn, Ursula finds herself in unusually good form pouring the tea. Lawrence loads on the significance with some unusual usages of the verb “forget” and the adjectives “still” and “perfect”:
She was usually nervous and uncertain at performing these public duties, such as giving tea. But today she forgot, she was at her ease, entirely forgetting to have misgivings. The tea-pot poured beautifully from a proud slender spout. Her eyes were warm with smiles as she gave him his tea. She had learned at last to be still and perfect.
The Italian translator has trouble with this, perhaps finds it embarrassing—in any event, resists. If we translate the Italian version back into English we have Ursula “entirely forgetting that she was inclined to be apprehensive”—a rather more standard statement than “forgetting to have misgivings.” But more remarkably, for the last sentence: “Finally she had learned to do it with a firm hand and perfect composure.” As if Lawrence had merely been talking about her tea-pouring abilities.
Do we as readers subconsciously make these “corrections”? How far can they go?
Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway
At the crucial moment, when Septimus Warren Smith, feeling threatened by another doctor’s visit, throws himself from the window onto the railings below, he yells “I’ll give it to you!” The Italian translation offers, “Lo volete voi,” which in English literally is “It’s you who want it!” or, more idiomatically, “You asked for it!” Was the translator aware she had altered the text?
When Clarissa Dalloway is described as “a radiancy no doubt in some dull lives,” the translation omits the “dull.” In general all that is snobbish in Woolf or Clarissa is gently removed.
Interestingly, exactly the opposite occurs with Machiavelli in English. Again expectation is everything and Machiavelli is celebrated of course for being Machiavellian. Received opinion must not shift. So when having considered the downfall of his hero and model, the ruthless Cesare Borgia, Machiavelli rather ruefully writes: “Raccolte io adunque tutte le azioni del duca, non saprei riprenderlo.” (Literally: “Having gathered then all the actions of the duke, I would not know how to reproach him.”) The translator George Bull gives, “So having summed up all that the duke did, I cannot possibly censure him.” Here the word “censure” has a strong moral connotation, made stronger still by the introduction of “cannot possibly,” which is not there in the Italian.
“We must believe in poetry translation, if we want to believe in World Literature.” Thus Thomas Tranströmer, the Swedish poet and winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, quoted in a recent essay by Robert Robertson, one of his translators.
(W.H. Auden gave us his versions of Icelandic sagas in much the same way). Nevertheless, Robertson feels the need to call on various authorities to sanction a translation process that assumes that poetry is made up of a literal semantic sense, which can easily be transmitted separately from the
which only a poet is sufficiently sensitive to reconstruct.
T.S. Eliot is then cited as having warned Lowell not to present his ‘imitations’ of Tranströmer and others as “translations”:
If you use the word translation in the subtitle it will attract all those meticulous little critics who delight in finding what seem to them mis-translations. You will remember all the fuss about Ezra Pound’s Propertius. (In Defence of Pound’s Propertius – Mark Wilson | The Fiend)
Let us remember our most intense experiences of poetry in our mother tongue, reading Eliot and Pound as adolescents perhaps, Frost and Wallace Stevens, Auden and Geoffrey Hill, then coming back to them after many years, discovering how much more was there than we had imagined, picking up echoes of other literature we have read since, seeing how the poet shifted the sense of this or that word slightly, and how this alters the tone and feeling of the whole. And then let’s also recall some of the finest poetry criticism we have read—by William Empson, Christopher Ricks, or Eliot himself—the ability of these men to fill in linguistic and literary contexts in such a way that the text takes on a deeper meaning, or to tease out relations inside a poem that had been obscure, but once mentioned are suddenly obvious and enrich our experience of the work.
Try this experiment: pick up a copy of a book mis-titled Dante’s Inferno. It offers 20 celebrated poets, few of whom had more than a passing knowledge of Italian, each translating a canto of The Inferno. The result is inevitably extremely uneven as in each case we feel the Italian poet’s voice being dragged this way and that according to each translator’s assumptions of what he might or might not have sounded like. Sometimes it is Heaney’s Inferno, sometimes it is Carolyn Forche’s, sometimes it is W.S. Merwin’s but it is never Dante’s.
Then dip into the 1939 prose translation by the scholar John Sinclair. There is immediately a homogeneity and fluency here, a lack of showiness and a semantic cohesion over scores of pages that give quite a different experience. To wind up, look at Robert and Jean Hollander’s 2002 reworking of Sinclair. Robert Hollander is a Dante scholar and has cleared up Sinclair’s few errors. His wife Jean is a poet who, while respecting to a very large degree Sinclair’s phrasing, has made some adjustments, under her husband’s meticulous eye, allowing the translation to fit into unrhymed verse. It is still a long way from reading Dante in the original, but now we do feel that we have a very serious approximation and a fine read.
What is the status of translated texts? Are they essentially different from texts in their original form? One of the arguments I have put forward is that there is a natural tendency towards
when one writes even the most ordinary prose, and that editing to conform to the linguistic conventions of a different culture can interfere with this. The translator gives priority to the semantic sense, but that sense was also partly guided in the original by what one might call the acoustic inertia of the language.
What voice do I translate this in?
Usually one would say: the same voice as the original’s, as you hear it in the Italian and imagine it in English. This would be along the line of Dryden’s famous injunction to translators to write as the author would write if he were English—a rather comical idea since we are interested in the author largely because he comes from elsewhere and does not write like an Englishman. In any event, this text is a special case.
Do I write:
Hope never abandons man in relation to his nature, but in relation to his reason. So people (the authors of La morale universelle, vol. 3) are stupid when they say suicide can’t be committed without a kind of madness, it being impossible to renounce all hope without it. Actually, having set aside religious sentiments, always to go on hoping is a felicitous and natural, though true and continuous, madness and totally contrary to reason which shows too clearly that there is no hope for any of us. [July 23, 1820]
Men never lose hope in response to nature, but in response to reason. So people (the authors of the Morale universelle, vol. 3) who say no one can kill themselves without first sinking into madness, since in your right mind you never lose hope, have got it all wrong. Actually, leaving religious beliefs out of the equation, our going on hoping and living is a happy, natural, but also real and constant madness, anyway quite contrary to reason which all too clearly shows that there is no hope for any of us. [July 23, 1820]
Or some mixture of the two? The fact is that while I find it hard to imagine translating Dante’s famous Lasciate ogni speranza… any other way than “Abandon all hope” (curiously introducing this rather heavy verb where in the Italian we have a simple lasciare, to leave) here I just can’t imagine any reason for not reorganizing La speranza non abbandona mai l’uomo, into Man never never loses hope.