Poetry, Translation Poetics, Impossibility and Brother Anthony

KTLIT's Unofficial Mascot: Fighting!From a blog I had not heard of before, Poems and Poetics, comes an excerpt from a lecture by the estimable Brother Anthony of Taize on translation.

The sting of it is that it was presented at Dongguk University the year before I got there!

Still, it is entirely worth reading as Brother Anthony notes:

the translator seems doomed to failure no matter what s/he does, since from the point of view of the source culture, a translator will usually be seen as the potential agent of a transmission as nearly complete as possible of the original in all its complexity of reputation, its style and resonance; from the point of view of the target culture, a translator is expected to serve as the agent of an appropriation and adaptation by which a literary text from elsewhere is transmuted into a work that will be attractively exotic, perhaps, but not too disconcertingly foreign in its new context and language. Neither expectation can ever be fully satisfied.

He goes on to note that Koreans, in particular, seem to believe that this problem can be crossed simply by doing a “faithful” translation (by which they often mean word for word), which is a pipe dream generated from a pipe I’d like to have between my own teeth. ^^

Check it out and pray that part two will shortly be published.

3 thoughts on “Poetry, Translation Poetics, Impossibility and Brother Anthony

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  2. Poetry translations if done well can be extremely artistically fulfilling.

    However, financially, they are never rewarding.

    Poetry translations require subsidies, and can be a good way for translators to build their skills and derive satisfaction.

    Academic publishers are the best venues for them, as poetry publishers are extremely limited.

    The web can also be a good venue for this, given its lower costs.

  3. I usually do literal translations and put annotations when there is an idiom or it is unclear, but I do it as a hobby, not as a profession.

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