Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nasty ...

... Translating Zbigniew Herbert. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


  1. Anonymous6:08 AM

    As Jaymer Veers once wrote: ‘Reading a translation is not unlike overhearing a conversation in a room four doors away. The best translators can knock a wall or two away; the worst may as well have given you a pair of ear-muffs’

    Still, it could have been Jan Zbigwurt

  2. Thanks for picking up on this, Frank.

    There is a fair bit of nastiness floating about on this issue, but most of it, even the most bitter comments, have seemed passionate and sincere to me rather than merely personal, and interesting points have been made by all sides.

    I'd like to hope that good translators can do more than just "knock a wall or two away," Georgy. Some translations I have read have been worthy of the original and read as well in the new language as in the original.

    I've forgotten who said this, but one poet told his/her translator, "I don't care what you do to my poems, as long as you improve them." Although I suspect improving a poem by translating it represents a different kind of translation failure.