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Monday, December 13, 2021


 The Quijote is a translation from the Arabic. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese purports to be ... from the Portuguese. There is, of course, Ossian.  The Cartas marruecas. Pretending that a work is found manuscript is a common metafictional device, that both adds and subtracts verisimilitude. Adding, because it explains how the work comes into being, subtracting because it points to the contrivance itself. Saying the work is also translated adds another layer to this device. 

The part of the Q that Borges / Menard reproduces comes write after the introduction to the Cide Hamete device.  "La historia, madre de la verdad."  

Two American poets have translated Hafiz and Rumi without knowing Persian. One of them simply invents the poems, not even bothering to adapt existing translation.  He has a book, Love poems from God, in which all the poems are fake. He has poems purporting to be by Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross, but that sound exactly like his non-translations from Rumi. People eat this shit up, I kid you not. The other one reworks existing translation, eliminating the Islamic elements and translating everything into New Age woo-speak. 

This is the degradation of Spicer's poetics of dictation and Koch's poetics of parody. What is helpful is to realize that apocryphal translations run the gamut, from deliberate metafiction to romantic and postmodern hoax. 

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