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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Another argument for "belletrism"

Here's another argument: a translation of a novel is a novel. A translation of poem, if it is in verse, is a poem. Translated literature, then, is, in fact, "belles lettres." A reader of a novel in translation is reading a novel, and does what a reader of an untranslated novel does: she follows the plot of the story and keeps the characters straight in her head. The spectator at a play in translation does what other theater spectators do. A reader of poetry-in-translation is a poetry reader. Translation is meant for such purposes.

Are translations a separate category of text? Yes. Should a reader know that he is reading a translation. Yes. But translations are written for translation theorists, but for readers. Readers need to feel that the version they are reading has real autonomy.

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I could still accommodate a few more people in my workshop. It started yesterday but there is still time. The students really hit home runs on the first assignment. Don't you want to be part of this?