Thursday, May 16, 2019

Tread carefully!

Any poetic, philosophic, rhetorical pronouncement worth taking seriously will compact its executive means and meanings. It will resist, it will frustrate to the greatest possible degree, the dissociative, the deconstructive agencies of paraphrase and translation. A major text exposes pitilessly the necessary innocence and arbitrariness of the translator’s assumption that meaning is some sort of ‘packageable content’ and not an energy irreducible to any other medium. Language is, therefore, the adversary of translation. Thus there is more than cautionary allegory in the prohibition which numerous cultures have set against the translation of their sacred texts.—George Steiner, No Passion Spent, page 195

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