Poetic Translation

I’ve just discovered the blog bLogicarian and am looking forward to being able to read further – see the length of Esperanto: An International Auxiliary Clusterfuck for an example of why I need a weekend to absorb. From A Brief Note on Translating Poetry:

A good translator doesn’t just translate “into” something already existing in the target tradition, but brings something new to the target language from the original. And that requires using one’s target tradition in a foreign way at some level. Though if one pulls a Nabokov, the result may be useless in many ways. For all their flaws and chinoiserie, Ezra Pound’s translations from Old English, Classical Chinese and Provençal do succeed at that at some level. So do Edward Fitzgerald’s translations from Omar Khayyām and Vikram Seth’s versions of Medieval Chinese poetry. They offer the reader something new that they can’t get anywhere else. The original must, after all, usually be something new if it justifies the reader’s attention or the translator’s effort.

Walter Arndt, in his hilariously written Picaro in Hitler’s Europe once said that to desire to do verse-translation requires one to be a either a person with more than one country or a person with no country. Perhaps he was not entirely wrong.

And then there are the valid critiques of Firefly in Sinorrhea: Why Joss Whedon’s Firefly Annoys Me – problems that I’d noticed during my recent watching of the show:

Even those cultural aspects of the show’s universe that aren’t mere occidentalisms telescoped into the distant future do not actually employ non-western cultural phenomena, but rather American re-imaginings thereof. And Whedon didn’t put the least amount of thought into any of this, of how even a slightly clued-in non-expert such as yours truly might respond to what he’s doing. He’d never dare do something like this with gender.

It’s shallow. Joss was either going for the lowest common American denominator here, or just didn’t know any better.

 

It’s not updated frequently, but there’s a lot there when he does.

One thought on “Poetic Translation

  1. Yeah, I don’t update very frequently. I tend to blog rather hypomanically about once a month. Most of my online activity is found in the form of translations at Poems Found in Translation.

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