Monday, 29 November 2010

text resurrection

"Just as the manifestations of life are intimately con-
nected with the phenomenon of life without being of importance
to it, a translation issues from the original-not so much from its
life as from its afterlife. For a translation comes later than the
original, and since the important works of world literature never
find their chosen translators at the time of their origin, their
translation marks their stage of continued life. The idea of life
and afterlife in works of art should be regarded with an entirely
unmetaphorical objectivity. Even in times of narrowly preju-
diced thought there was an inkling that life was not limited to
organic corporeality. But it cannot be a matter of extending its
dominion under the feeble scepter of the soul. as Fechner tried
to do, or, conversely, of basing its definition on the even less con-
clusive factors of animality, such as sensation, which characterize
life only occasionally. The concept of life is given its due only
if everything that has a history of its own, and is not merely the
setting for history, is credited with life.
In the final analysis, the
range of life must be determined by history rather than by na-
ture, least of all by such tenuous factors as sensation and soul.
The philosopher's task consists in comprehending all of natural
life through the more encompassing life of' history. And indeed,
is not the continued life of works of art far easier to recognize
than the continual life of animal species? The history of the great
works of art tells us about their antecedents, their realization in
the age of the artist, their potentially eternal afterlife in succeed-
ing generations. Where this last manifests itself, it is called fame.

Translations that are more than transmissions of subject matter
come into being when in the course of its survival a work has
reached the age of its fame. Contrary, therefore, to the claims of
bad translators, such translations do not so much serve the work
as owe their existence to it. The life of the originals attains in
them to its ever-renewed latest and most abundant flowering."

[W.Benjamin, The task of the translator]

1 comment:

xtina said...