Sunday, March 22, 2009

Translation Boom


Blogger Bureaucratic Imagination said...

Okay. A disclaimer - I don't expect great literary analysis from the Philadelphia Inquirer (though for what it's worth a quick Google search reveals that John Timpane has a PhD in English from Stanford).

Nevertheless, this article creeps me out. On the one hand: hip, hip hooray! coverage for translation in a semi-major newspaper. On the other hand, John Timpane what are you thinking?

"Ours is a great era of translation," the article says, and evidence for this is what, exactly? Certainly not numbers, as we all know how grim the stats are when we talk about the amount of books in translation published by both the majors, and, as Exoskeleton likes to point out, the independent presses as well. So his evidence for the greatness of our era is that Horace and the Song of the Cid and the Oresteia are now appearing in new translations. Okay, I mean, I'm sure Anne Carson's Oresteia is truly great; but to state that an era of great translation has been ushered in by J.D. McClatchy's all stars doing Horace makes me wanna say: dude, if you just did a little bit of research you could have actually written a really good article.

Firies: "Translation thus breaks down the final obstacle to the true international poetry community." Where to begin? "True?" "International Community?" "final obstacle?" What's he talking about? This grandiose sound bite means nothing, and is never really pursued as a viable thesis in the article.

And yet, down here in the corners we know there is a translation well not quite "boom" but at least a really loud and awesome spark in poetry. But we're talking the land of Circumference/Action Books/Ugly Duckling Presse/Mandorla, among other inhabitants, and thankfully these inhabitants are actually concerned about translation as more than just blow hard sound bite dribble.


6:26 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Mere intellectual experience/understanding of foreign ideas (once they've been "translated") doesn't mean that the final "barrier" has been broken.

There are plenty of people in even the American poetry community who "understand" each other's ideas just fine, but nonetheless have all sorts of barriers set up between them.

Barriers can be good thing. Maybe we don't have to know about all foreign poetries. Maybe we're not welcome.

6:15 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Daniel, Max,

I think you make very good points.

Hence: "the true international poetry community" seems not just claustrophobic but also imperialistic. Whose community? WHy "the"?


6:42 AM  

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