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27 May 2010

TSR: Dryden, Schleiermacher

I looked at Friedrich Schleiermacher while reading The Translator's Invisibility, and wasn't convinced. TSR contains the essay "On the different methods of translating" so I can now see exactly the point Schleiermacher was making. Or can I? It's a ponderous piece of writing, with at least two paragraphs that are three pages long. The paragraph that begins on page 46 of this volume, for example, works up to a claim that there are two alternatives: paraphrase and imitation, and then discusses each of these within the same paragraph. Oh, I'd be inclined to forgive the translator who broke this text up.

But it then moves on the main point: there is a choice between two strategies:

either the translator leaves the author in peace as much as possible and moves the reader towards him; or he leaves the reader in peace as much as possible and moves the writer towards him.

But then, I think, Schleiermacher is misled by his own metaphor. Only one of these "paths" can be followed because:

any attempt to combine them being certain to produce a highly unreliable result and to carry with it the danger that writer and reader might miss each other completely.

He, as we saw earlier, goes for the first choice for reasons of improvement; of the reader and of the culture that refreshes itself on the new concepts that initially seem so alien.

Reading this now, after my canter through modern literary theory, I'm struck by how much he refers to the writer, rather than the text.

Earlier, John Dryden's introduction to translations of Ovid was a much livelier read. It's a contrast with d'Ablancourt, in that it pretty much says that translations should be warts'n'all although "the sence of an Authour, generally speaking, is to be Sacred and inviolable"

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