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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Go literal first

I've formulated the Hippocratic oath of translators: first, do no harm. (Self-explanatory.)

A second rule might be to try the obvious solution first. The unnecessary embellishment, the explanatory extra word, the more abstract word where concrete word is available (tree instead of elm), the word that's unrelated etymologically to the word your translating (vault for cripta instead of crypt). All this is permitted but not recommended. Try to avoid doing obvious harm to the poem. Is that too much to ask?

By literal I mean something more like close to the letter, not the metaphorical sense of literal, meaning literal meaning. Something close to the original precision of the poem.

I should add that a few of Rothenberg's translations of the Suites are wonderful, almost perfect. Some are ok, but not what I would have done, and some are just not that good.

What I miss is a dedication to Lorca as craftsman, that hard precision.

So I am announcing here for the first time: I will translate Lorca's Suites in its entirety. You heard it here first. Leslie's pointed out to me that JR's translation was 25 years ago. My sense of the passage of time is defective, since I think of the nineties as very recent. Please try to contain your excitement.

1 comment:

Leslie B. said...

Molt bé.

90s are recent, it is true, although people do not understand this.