Literature in translation (another long-winded rant)
Posted by Barbara on August 10, 1998 at 17:06:34:
The thread a little ways down about translations of JA brings to mind a favourite topic of mine: reading literature in translation.
I can understand how someone might like to read a well-known and well-loved book translated into another language because you would then have a head start in understanding it. But in general, what do you all think about reading translations fo literary works?
My opinion is that if I can read it in the original language, then I do not want to read a translation, because my reading experience is being "filtered" through another person's perceptions. Many times when the translator chose a word, there was a value judgement there as to whether this word or another word was a better representation of the author's intention. One teacher I know had her students reading a novel by Roald Dahl translated into French, which I though was a shame since they were all English-speaking kids.
Now, on the other hand, if it is not a language I speak, nor am I ever likely to, then I am all for translations. For example, there is no way I would ever, ever be able to read Dostoevsky or Tolstoy otherwise.
I took a European novel class a few years back. Three of the books we read were Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, The Confessions of Zeno by Italo Zvevo (sp?), and Death in Venice We read them all in English, but I have always felt like I cheated myself, because I could have handed Madame Bovary and The Confessions of Zeno in French and Italian respectively, although I know my German is too shaky for Death in Venice.
A few years ago I was studying at French the University of Quebec one summer, and we were reading French novels. As a project for my course, I took several translations of famous Shakepearian soliloquies such as "To be or not to be..." from Hamlet and "The quality of mercy is not strained..." from The Merchant of Venice. The translations were all TOTALLY different from one another!!!
Any thoughts on this topic??
- "Once upon a time there were three sisters and a widowed father" sanna 17:51:01 8/12/98 (0)
- What's in a word Jane 22:16:20 8/11/98 (2)
- Good and bad translations Constanza 11:32:38 8/11/98 (0)
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