What's in a word
Posted by Jane on August 11, 1998 at 22:16:20:
In response to Literature in translation (another long-winded rant), written by Barbara on August 10, 1998 at 17:06:34
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.
In Italian, if I recall, Svevo's book is "La coscienza de Zeno", which translates as conciousness, conscience, or awareness. Now I hacked through it with my pathetic grasp of Italian, and while I would have appreciated it more in translation, probably, you can see that even translating the title requires a choice that loses two out of the three meanings in Italian, all of which are partly "right". Funny that the translator chose "Confessions", which wasn't one of the direct translations at all.
I agree with both Barbara's and Constanza's comments---Constanza's comments about a cultural filter being there anyway is something I hadn't really thought about. Still, these books are glimpses into other places and ways of thinking, and when books are as good as "Unbearable Lightness of Being" then the translators are doing something right.
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.