A few words on translation

George Puttenham – an early advocate for the visibility of the translator

“[…] for in deede as I would wish euery inuentour, which is the very Poet, to receaue the prayses of his inuention, so would I not haue a translatour to be ashamed to be acknowen of his translation.”

The Arte of English Poesie, 1589

George Chapman – arguing in favour of translation that transposes the true sense and cultural depth of the original into the target language

“The worth of a skilfull and worthy translator is to obserue the sentences, figures, and formes of speech proposed in his author, his true sence and height, and to adorne them with figures and formes of oration fitted to the originall in the same tongue to which they are translated”

(From Preface “To the Reader” in the first draft of George Chapman’s translation of Homer, entitled Seauen Bookes of the I Hades of Homer, printed by John Windet in 1598)

Lewis Carroll – again emphasising the importance of the sense

‘Tis so,’ said the Duchess: `and the moral of that is–“Oh, ’tis love, ’tis love, that makes the world go round!”‘
‘Somebody said,’ Alice whispered, `that it’s done by everybody minding their own business!’
‘Ah, well! It means much the same thing,’ said the Duchess, digging her sharp little chin into Alice’s shoulder as she added, `and the moral of that is– Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves.“‘
`How fond she is of finding morals in things!’ Alice thought to herself.
(The Mock Turtle’s Story from Alice in Wonderland)

alice12

About Lucy Byatt

I'm a translator, from Italian into English. I also teach Italian Renaissance history and write.
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