By Robert Wechsler
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Extra info for Performing Without a Stage: The Art of Literary Translation
Even the great majority of published novels in translation reach tiny audiences. So it is the rare foreign author who attains fame, but the translator always gets the rewards he seeks. ” This topsy-turvy definition of translation is from one of the few great poets never to have translated. But famous it is, and no one can enter the topic of translation without walking under a gate bearing its words. Frost appears to me not to have been talking about translation as much as he was using (or abusing) translation to define poetry.
However, Felstiner did not feel obliged to copy Celan’s approach to translation. Felstiner’s goal was not to place his artistic imprint on Celan’s poems, but rather to redeem all the loss Celan suffered and all the loss Celan has to suffer being transferred into another language. For Felstiner too, however, esteeming does not require copying. He is not at the other extreme, where the translator disappears, submissively crouching behind the author’s standing figure. Felstiner is there in front of the author, kneeling rather than crouching, interpreting and redeeming rather than either adapting or worshiping the original.
But people wanted to do whatever they could imagine. People don’t need armies of workers to do this; all they need are armies of readers. So God gave each person — in future, each people — a different language, so that they could not communicate the expressions of their imagination, at least in the form of language. All the other arts communicate fine after the destruction of the Tower of Babel; only those using the medium of language were cursed, sent into a state of eternal confusion. And so only the linguistic arts require translation in order to spread abroad upon the face of the earth.
Performing Without a Stage: The Art of Literary Translation by Robert Wechsler