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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Words on Translation

"To translate, one must have a style of his own, for otherwise the translation will have no rhythm or nuance, which come from the process of artistically thinking through and moulding the sentences; they cannot be reconstituted by piecemeal imitation. The problem of translation is to retreat to a simpler tenor of one's own style and creatively adjust this to one's author."
Activist and American writer Paul Goodman (1911-1972)

"Translation is entirely mysterious. Increasingly I have felt that the art of writing is itself translating, or more like translating than it is like anything else. What is the other text, the original? I have no answer. I suppose it is the source, the deep sea where ideas swim, and one catches them in nets of words and swings them shining into the boat... where in this metaphor they die and get canned and eaten in sandwiches."
American author Ursula K. LeGuin

"There are few efforts more conducive to humility than that of the translator trying to communicate an incommunicable beauty. Yet, unless we do try, something unique and never surpassed will cease to exist except in the libraries of a few inquisitive book lovers."
Greek mythologist Edith Hamilton (1867-1963), (Three Greek Plays, 1937)

"What makes literature interesting is that it does not survive its translation. The characters in a novel are made out of the sentences. That's what their substance is."
British author Jonathan Miller, Sunday Times (London, February 12, 1989)

"Translation is the art of failure."
Italian writer Umberto Eco

"Translation is at best an echo."
George Barrow

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