Introduction into Translation
|Extract from the preface Victor Hugo wrote for the Shakespeare translations published by his son, Francois-Victor, in 1865||3|
|Extract from “Versiones seu Interpretationes”(“Versions of Translations”), written by Juan Luis Vives||3|
|Extract from “De optimo genere interpretandi”(“On the Best Way of Translating”), Book One of De interpretatione libri duo (“Two Books on Translation”), written by Petrus Danielus Huetius||4|
|Extract from Alexander Fraser Tytler Essay on the Principles of Translation, 1790||5|
Translation is, of course, a rewriting of an original text. All rewritings, whatever their intention, reflect a certain ideology and a poetics and as such manpulate literature to function in a given society in a given way. Rewriting is manipulation, undertaken in the service of power, and in its positive aspect can help in the evolution of a literature and a society. Rewritings can introduce new concepts, new genres, new devices, and the history of literary innovation, of the shaping power of one culture upon another. But rewriting can also repress innovation, distort and contain, and in an age of ever increasing manipulation af all kinds, the study of the manipulative translation can help us towards a greater awareness of the world in which we live.
Translation has its own excitement, its own interest. A satisfactory translation is always possible, but good translator is never satisfied with it. It can usually be improved. There is no such thing as a perfect, ideal or ‘correct’ translation. A translator is always trying to extend his knowledge and improve his means of expression; he is always pursuing facts and words. He works on four levels: translation is first a science, which entails the knowledge and verification of the facts and the language thet describes them – here, whar is wrong, mistakes of truth, can be identified; secondly, it is a skill, which calls for appropriate language and acceptable usage; thirdly, an art, which distinguishes good from undistiguished writing and is the creative, the intuitive, sometimes the inspired, level of the translation; lastly, a matter of taste, where argument ceases, preferences are expressed, and the variety of meritorious translation is the reflection of individual differences. This time I will regard translation as a skill, translation of idioms within a culture.
Victor Hugo, 1802 – 1885. French novelist, poet, dramatist.
Extract from the preface he wrote for the Shakespeare translations published by his son, Francois-Victor, in 1865.
When you offer a translation to a nation, that nation will almost always look on the translation as an act of violence against itself. Bourgeois taste tends to resist the universal spirit.
To translate a foreign writer is to add to your own national poetry; such a widening of the horizon does not please those who profit from it, at least not in the beginning. The first reaction one of rebellion. If a foreign idiom is transplanted into a language in this way, that language will do all it can to reject that foreign idiom. This kind of taste is repugnant to it. These unusual locutions, these unexpected turns of phrase, that savage corruption of well-known figures of speech, they all amount to an invasion. Well, then, will become of one’s own literature? Who could ever dare think of infusing the substance of another people into its own very life-blood? This kind of poetry is excessive. There is an abuse of images, a profusion of metaphors, a violation of frontiers, a forced introduction of the cosmopolitan into local taste.
Juan Luis Vives, 1492-1540. Spanish humanist.