2

March 6, 2006 by AK

Theories of Nonsense

Reading this translation thread at LanguageHat‘s, I asked myself: Why is that theories of translations have multiplied in the past, say, four decades, but good translations (of Russian authors into English and vice versa) have not?

Also found via comments at LH, Gary Saul Morton’s Absolute Nonsense — an excellent explanation of what is missing from most Gogol translations.


2 comments »

  1. j.cassian says:

    “Why is that theories of translations have multiplied in the past, say, four decades, but good translations (of Russian authors into English and vice versa) have not?”

    Hmm. You don’t think the two may be connected? How much “translation theory” was around when Sir Thomas Urquhart produced his version of Rabelais? (Yes, I admit there was some, but not a lot.)

    “Believe it or not, Gogol went down in literary history as a realist—so the radical critic Belinsky hailed him—a critical fate that can only be called Gogolian. This absurd interpretation became canonical in the Soviet period.”

    This reminds me why I was never very eager to investigate the literary criticism of Belinsky et al. after reading their “insights” in the introductions to English translations of Russian classics.

  2. Alex(ei) says:

    No amount of literary theory can compensate for the translator’s incompetence. Generally speaking, becoming a good translator requires a heavy, risky investment in old-fashioned self-education. I’m not sure if it is encouraged either in academia or elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Archives

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: