“If the vast majority of translations fall short of the source-texts, there are those which surpass them, whose autonomous strength obscures and marginalises the humbler ‘self’ of the original. I call this betrayal ‘transfiguration’…..What a truly inspired (very rare) act of translation offers in reparation is something new that was already there. This is not mysticism. Any thoughtful translator will know precisely what I mean…..Where it is wholly achieved, great translations being much rare than great literature, translation is no less than felt disc rouse between two human beings, ethics in action”.
– George Steiner, Errata
Do you know examples of this? The only thing that comes to mind are those who hold the King James Version in greater esteem than the original Greek and Hebrew.
There are those that made the assertion about Scott Moncrieff’s Proust. My French isn’t good enough to judge.
I don’t know about surpassing, but I do know about equalling in translation. This may feel like a puerile example, but Anthea Bell’s translations of the Asterix comic books are a masterpiece in their own right (the dog Idefix becoming Dogmatix is one of my favourite examples).
It’s a great example, Marina. I’d never consider Asterix (or Tintin) puerile.
I love them dearly…
Hey, can I please get a citation on that quote, I’d love to use it in an essay but do not have access to Steiner books. Thanks so much! 🙂
Sure. (Steiner, 1997, p.99)