Saturday, December 01, 2018


Dependent on Translations

Mary R. Lefkowitz, "Cultural Conventions and the Persistence of Mistranslation," Classical Journal 68.1 (October-November, 1972) 31-38 (at 31; footnote omitted):
No generation has been more aware than ours of the aesthetics of translation, because no generation has depended on translations more. Withdrawn within ourselves, we seem to cope with existence best in our own language. We all admit that much is lost in the process of transmission, yet the disinclination to learn even the most accessible modern languages persists relentlessly. Isolation screens us also from the past. We discern easily in history only what is not foreign to our experience. So we regard the Classics, as through a set of filters, with the quality of light successively altered by changing languages and customs.
Id. (at 36; footnote omitted):
I had worked on [Bacchylides'] Ode 5 for several months before I noticed the discrepancy between Jebb's translation and the text. Was I thinking of Vergil? Or (and this unfortunately seems much more likely) in my insecurity and ignorance had I become a victim of what might conveniently be called the Loeb Library syndrome?

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