08 August 2009

Thanks again to Evri

Most of the time Evri produces quite comically useless links, but here's a good one: Adrian Hamilton in the Independent on the colonialising effect of translations. It refers to Ted Hughes' Phedre, but also includes Chekhov and Ibsen, with the comment that Ibsen, for example, is over-simplified to meet English expectations. It's a while since I've seen an Ibsen, but I remember Fiona Shaw's Hedda Gabler, which included one quite unforgiveable bit of comic business. Back again to Barthes' view of acting as translation. Here are the closing comments (which actually may overlook the pressure on good translators to domesticate the text; it treats translation as unproblematic, an alternative to 'versioning'):
This is more than a question of downgrading the translator's role. A "version" is, at heart, a form of colonialism, an act of ownership over a foreign literature. It says that the original is not quite good enough for us. It needs improving to be acceptable to a British audience. The sadness is that we have such good translators in this country. Why don't we use them?

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