Tuesday, August 03, 2021


A Misleading Impression

Nigel Wilson, "Tasks for Editors," in Erika Kihlman and Denis Searby, edd., Ars Edendi Lecture Series, vol. I (Stockholm: University of Stockholm, 2011), pp. 11–24 (at 13, footnote omitted):
Translations of ancient and modern literature into modern languages usually read very smoothly and create the impression that textual problems, if there were any, have all now been solved. This however is by no means always the case: a fresh unprejudiced reading often reveals the existence of passages which are problematic or at least invite some discussion. A striking instance is the experience of J. Enoch Powell, whose translation of Herodotus appeared in 1948. He had worked on it for several years before the outbreak of the Second World War and published various preliminary papers. At the beginning of the first of these he states that the need to provide a correct version of a text composed by an intelligent author had led him to the conclusion that the Oxford Classical Text by Hude needed to be adjusted in many places, and the appendix to the translation listing problem passages fills thirty-five pages; among the hundreds of suggestions a high proportion are by Powell himself. Though many of them have failed to convince scholars working on these problems more recently, it would be wrong to dismiss them as frivolous.

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