The ‘Motion of Spirit’ in Translation

“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

7 thoughts on “The ‘Motion of Spirit’ in Translation

  1. 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).

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