Friday, 10 December 2010

on literalness_abandoning time

Of necessity, therefore, the demand for literalness,
whose justification is obvious, whose legitimate ground is quite obscure,
must be understood in a more meaningful context.
 Fragments of a vessel which are to be glued together must match
one another in the smallest details, although they need not be
like one another. In the same way a translation, instead of re-
sembling the meaning of the original, must lovingly and in detail
incorporate the original's mode of signification, thus making both
the orjginal and the translation recognizable as fragments of a
greater language, just as fragments are part of a vessel. For this
very reason translation must in large measure refrain from want-
ing to communicate something, from rendering the sense, and in
this the original is important to it only insofar as it has already
relieved the translator and his translation of the effort of assem-
bling and expressing what is to be conveyed. In the realm of
translation, too, the words "εν αρχή ην ο λόγος" [in the beginning
was the word] apply. On the other hand, as regards the meaning,
the language of a translation can-in fact, must-let itself go,
so that it gives voice to the intentio of the original not as repro-
duction but as harmony, as a supplement to the language in which
it expresses itself, as its own kind of intentio. Therefore it is not
the highest praise of a translation, particularly in the age of its
origin, to say that it reads as if it had originally been written in
that language. Rather, the significance of fidelity as ensured by
literalness is that the work reflects the great longing for linguistic
complementation. A real translation is transparent; it does not
cover the original, does not block its light, but allows the pure
language, as though reinforced by its own medium, to shine
upon the original all the more fully. This may be achieved, above
all, by a literal rendering of the syntax which proves words rather
than sentences to be the primary element of the translator. For if
the sentence is the wall before the language of the original
literalness is the arcade.

[W.Benjamin, The task of the Translator, Illuminations]


xtina said...


xtina said...

Read verbally=see literally

xtina said...

με συγκίνησες.ευχαριστώ
καλή ανάσταση