Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Love of Translation



I'd like to follow-up on Nora's post last month about the NPR featurette on translation, by directing readers to a more extended commentary on the conclusion of that show over at the blog of translator Erica Mena. Over at her Beneath Sense blog, Mena elevates the discussion of translation out of taxonomy and into urgent necessity:
[Translation] is both a science, in the sense of languages being a science, and an art in the sense of creative writing. This bridge that literary translation creates between the critical and the creative, the objective and the subjective, is what perhaps initially drew me into its practice. But it is more than a science and an art, it is and has to be a love.
Emphasis mine. In the same port, Mena recalls her burgeoning devotion to this lovely artful science:
I was told in one of my first translation workshops with renowned poet and translator Martha Collins that there aren't very many young literary translators. It seemed odd to me at the time that any craft would have much to do with the age of its practitioners. But it occurs to me that perhaps it has something to do with that requirement of love. As a creative writer, the love I hold for my own work is somewhat selfish - it's hard to get real distance from it, to separate it from my intentions and emotions. As a translator, the love I bear for the work I'm translating is significantly different. It's not that I don't feel intimately attached to the work - I certainly do - possessive sometimes, proprietary over the original. But that to devote yourself, your creative energies, entirely to someone else's work requires a kind of selfless love that comes with perspective and time.
Too often, in seminars and in discussion with publishers, is lost the vital urges, the devotion and passion, which brings us to literature and which we in turn take from it. My appreciation to Erica for reinforcing the heated feeling beneath the cool surfaces of les belles-lettres.

2 comments:

noraglossia said...

Certainly, translating is a love for the orginal text--the original language, the original words, as well as a love for the process. Good translation requires care, attention, patience, and thought. And what are these qualities, if not symptomatic of a love of the process.

guitar said...

I like the name love translation.
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