Discussione:
A Rose by any Other Name
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FB
2005-09-18 19:30:41 UTC
Permalink
An interesting article by Umberto Eco.

QUOTE
*A Rose by Any Other Name*


*By Umberto Eco*
*Translated by William Weaver*
*Guardian Weekly, January 16, 1994*

There are writers who do not bother about their translations, sometimes
because they lack the linguistic competence; some sometimes because they
have no faith in the literary value of their work and are anxious only to
sell their product in as many countries as possible.
Often the indifference conceals two prejudices, equally despicable: Either
the author considers himself an inimitable genius and so suffers
translation as a painful political process to be borne until the whole
world has learned his language, or else the author harbours an "ethnic"
bias and considers it a waste of time to care about how readers from other
cultures might feel about his work.
People think an author can check his translations only if he knows the
language into I which he is to be translated. Obviously, if he does know
that language, the work proceeds more easily. But it all depends on the
translator's intelligence. For example, I do not know Swedish, Russian, or
Hungarian, and yet I have worked well with my translators into those
languages. They were able to explain to me the kind of difficulties they
faced, and make me understand why what I had written created problems in
their language. In many cases I was able to offer suggestions.
The problem frequently arises from the fact that translations are either
"source-oriented" or "target oriented," as today's books on Translation
Theory put it. A source-oriented translation must do everything possible to
make the B-language reader understand what the writer has thought or said
in language A. Classical Greek affords a typical example: in order to
comprehend it at all, the modern reader must understand what the poets of
that age were like and how they might express themselves. If Homer seems to
repeat "rosy-fingered dawn" too frequently, the translator must not try to
vary the epithet just because today's manuals of style insist we should be
careful about repeating the same adjective. The reader has to understand
that in those days dawn had rosy fingers whenever it was mentioned.
In other cases translation can and should be target-oriented. I will cite
an example from the translation of my novel Foucault's Pendulum whose chief
characters constantly speak in literary quotations. The purpose is to show
that it is impossible for these characters to see the world except through
literary references. Now, in chapter 57, describing an automobile trip in
the hills, the translation reads "the horizon became more vast, at every
curve the peaks grew, some crowned by little villages: we glimpsed endless
vistas." But, after "endless vistas" the Italian text went on: "al di là
della siepe, come osservava Diotallevi." If these words had been
translated, literally "beyond the hedge, as Diotallevi remarked," the
English-language reader would have lost something, for "al di la della
siepe" is a reference to the most beautiful poem of Giacomo Leopardi,
"L'infinito," which every Italian reader knows by heart. The quotation
appears at that point not because I wanted to tell the reader there was a
hedge anywhere nearby, but because I wanted to show how Diotallevi could
experience the landscape only by linking it to his experience of the poem.
I told my translators that the hedge was not important, nor the reference
to Leopardi, but it was important to have a literary reference at any cost.
In fact, William Weaver's translation reads: "We glimpsed endless vistas.
Like Darien," Diotallevi remarked..." This brief allusion to the Keats
sonnet is a good example of target-oriented translation.
A source-oriented translator in a language I do not know may ask me why I
have used a certain expression, or (if he understood it from the start) he
may explain to me why, in his language, such a thing cannot be said. Even
then I try to take part (if only from outside) in a translation that is at
once source and target-oriented.
These are not easy problems. Consider Tolstoy's War And Peace. As many
know, this novel -- written in Russian, of course -- begins with a long
dialogue in French. I have no idea how many Russian readers in Tolstoy's
day understood French; the aristocrats surely did because this French
dialogue is meant, in fact, to depict the customs of aristocratic Russian
society. Perhaps Tolstoy took it for granted that, in his day, those who
did not know French were not even able to read Russian. Or else he wanted
the non-French-speaking reader to understand that the aristocrats of the
Napoleonic period were, in fact, so remote from Russian national life that
they spoke in an incomprehensible fashion. Today if you re-read those
pages, you will realize that it is not important to understand what those
characters are saying, because they speak of trivial things. What is
important is to understand that they are saying those things in French. A
problem that has always fascinated me is this: How would you translate the
first chapter of War And Peace into French? The reader reads a book in
French and in it some of the characters are speaking French; nothing
strange about that. If the translator adds a note to the dialogue saying en
francais dans le text, it is of scant help: the effect is still lost.
Perhaps, to achieve that effect, the aristocrats (in the French
translation) should speak English. I am glad I did not write War And Peace
and am not obliged to argue with my French translator.
As an author, I have learned a great deal from sharing the work of my
translators. I am talking about my "academic" works as well as my novels.
In the case of philosophical and linguistic works, when the translator
cannot understand (and clearly translate) a certain page, it means that my
thinking was murky. Many times, after having faced the job of translation,
I have revised the second Italian edition of my book; not only from the
point of view of its style but also from the point of view of ideas.
Sometimes you write something in your own language A, and the translator
says: "If I translate that into my language B, it will not make sense." He
could be mistaken. But if, after long discussion, you realize that the
passage would not make sense in language B, it will follow that it never
made sense in language A to begin with.
This doesn't mean that, above a text written in language A there hovers a
mysterious entity that is its Sense, which would be the same in any
language, something like an ideal text written in what Walter Benjamin
called Reine Sprache (The Pure language). Too good to be true. In that case
it would only be a matter of isolating this Pure language and the work of
translation (even of a page of Shakespeare) could be done by computer.
The job of translation is a trial and error process, very similar to what
happens in an Oriental bazaar when you are buying a carpet. The merchant
asks 100, you offer 10 and after an hour of bargaining you agree on 50.
Naturally, in order to believe that the negotiation has been a success you
must have fairly precise ideas about this basically imprecise phenomenon
called translation. In theory, different languages are impossible to hold
to one standard; it cannot be said that the English "house" is truly and
completely the synonym of the French "maison." But in theory no form of
perfect communication exists. And yet, for better or worse, ever since the
advent of Homo sapiens, we have managed to communicate. Ninety percent (I
believe) of War And Peace's readers have read the book in translation and
yet if you set a Chinese, an Englishman, and an Italian to discussing War
And Peace, not only will all agree that Prince Andrej dies, but, despite
many interesting and differing nuances of meaning, all will be prepared to
agree on the recognition of certain moral principles expressed by Tolstoy.
I am sure the various interpretations would not exactly coincide, but
neither would the interpretations that three English-speaking readers might
provide of the same Wordsworth poem.
In the course of working with translators, you reread your original text,
you discover its possible interpretations, and it sometimes happens -- as I
have said -- that you want to rewrite it. I have not rewritten my two
novels, but there is one place which, after its translation, I would have
gladly rewritten. It is the dialogue in Foucault's Pendulum in which
Diotallevi says: "God created the world by speaking. He didn't send a
telegram." And Belbo replies:"Fiat lux. Stop."
But in the original Belbo said: "Fiat lux. Stop. Segue lettera" ("Fiat lux.
Stop. Letter follows.") "Letter follows" is a standard expression used in
telegrams (or at least it used to be standard, before the fax machine came
into existence). At that point in the Italian text, Casaubon said: "Ai
Tessalonicesi, immagino." (To the Thessalonians, I suppose.) It was a
sequence of witty remarks, somewhat sophomoric, and the joke lay in the
fact that Casaubon was suggesting that, after having created the world by
telegram, God would send one of Saint Paul's epistles. But the play on
words works only in Italian, in which both the posted letter and the
Saint's epistle are called lettera. In English the text had to be changed.
Belbo says only "Fiat lux. Stop." and Casaubon comments "Epistle follows."
Perhaps the joke becomes a bit more ultraviolet and the reader has to work
a little harder to understand what's going on in the minds of the
characters, but the short circuit between Old and New Testament is more
effective. Here, if I were rewriting the original novel, I would alter that
dialogue.
Sometimes the author can only trust in Divine Providence. I will never be
able to I collaborate fully on a Japanese translation of my work (though I
have tried). It is hard for me to understand the thought processes of my
"target." For that matter I always wonder what I am really reading, when I
look at the translation of a Japanese poem, and I presume Japanese readers
have the same experience when reading me. And yet I know that, when I read
the translation of Japanese poem, I grasp something of that thought process
that is different from mine. If I read a haiku after having read some Zen
Buddhist koans, I can perhaps understand why the simple mention of the moon
high over the lake should give me emotions analogous to and yet different
from those that an English romantic poet conveys to me. Even in these cases
a minimum of collaboration between translator and author can work. I no
longer remember into which Slavic language someone was translating The Name
of the Rose, but we were wondering what the reader would get from the many
passages in Latin. Even an American reader who has not studied Latin still
knows it was the language of the medieval ecclesiastical world and so
catches a whiff of the Middle Ages. And further, if he reads De Pentagono
Salomonis he can recognize pentagon and Solomon. But for a Slavic reader
these Latin phrases and names, transliterated into the Cyrillic alphabet,
suggest nothing.
If, at the beginning of War And Peace, the American reader finds "Eh bien,
mon prince... " he can guess that the person being addressed is a prince.
But if the same dialogue appears at the beginning of a Chinese translation
(in an incomprehensible Latin alphabet or worse expressed in Chinese
ideograms) what will the reader in Peking understand? The Slavic translator
and I decided to use, instead of Latin, the ancient ecclesiastical Slavonic
of the medieval Orthodox church. In that way the reader would feel the same
sense of distance, the same religious atmosphere, though understanding only
vaguely what was being said.
Thank God I am not a poet, because the problem becomes more dramatic in
translating poetry, an art where thought is determined by words, and if you
change the language, you change the thought. And yet there are excellent
examples of translated poetry produced by a collaboration between author
and translator. Often the result is a new creation. One text very close to
poetry because of its linguistic complexity is Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Now,
the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter - when it was still in the form of an
early draft -- was translated into Italian with Joyce himself
collaborating. The translation is markedly different from the original
English. It is not a translation. It is as if Joyce had rewritten his text
in Italian. And yet one French critic has said that to understand that
chapter properly (in English) it would be advisable to first read that
Italian draft.
Perhaps the Pure Language does not exist, but pitting one language against
another is a splendid adventure, and it is not necessarily true, as the
Italian saying goes, that the translator is always a traitor. Provided that
the author takes part in this admirable treason.
UNQUOTE


Bye, FB
--
"You must have had a most happy childhood there."
"Er, it was terrific."
"I'm so glad."
"No, I didn't mean it that way."
"I'm so sorry."
(The Philadelphia Story)
La Sûreté
2005-09-19 18:52:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by FB
An interesting article by Umberto Eco.
QUOTE
*A Rose by Any Other Name*
*By Umberto Eco*
*Translated by William Weaver*
*Guardian Weekly, January 16, 1994*
Dal punto di vista di un ng come ICLing, questo articolo è di William
Weaver, non di Umberto Eco.


Detto questo :-) mi dici cosa ci posso trovare di interessante? Il
titolo mi stuzzica molto, vorrei tanto leggerlo, ma sono
incasinatissimo in questo periodo, e quindi devo gestire molto bene le
mie limitate risorse :-)


ciao
--
Post by FB
Giovanni
.......
#10 Non desiderare la roba d'altri.
#11 Fatti i fatti tuoi.
#12 Non portare obbligo.
Mike Brewer
2005-09-20 01:17:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by FB
An interesting article by Umberto Eco.
QUOTE
*A Rose by Any Other Name*
*By Umberto Eco*
*Translated by William Weaver*
*Guardian Weekly, January 16, 1994*
...cut...>
Some of the stuff here is reused in later lectures , e.g. the 2002
Weidenfeld lectures at Oxford , which appeared in the UK (no doubt to some
extent reworked) in the book 'Mouse or Rat : Translation as Negotiation'
(2003) ; much the same material , I believe , also appears (tho' modified
and enlarged) in 'Dire quasi la stessa cosa' (Bompiani , 2003) . I haven't
seen the Italian book , but I certainly remember the bit from your quoted
article about 'al di là della siepe' appearing in an expanded form in the
English book (which I bought in March) .

It's interesting that this article in 1994 was translated by Bill Weaver ,
his American translator . 'Mouse or Rat' is written in English , presumably
entirely by Eco himself , and it has to be said that his command of English
is quite phenomenal . I found the book fascinating - it chases a lot of
hares , rather than pursuing a clear argument throughout (though
'negotiation' is the thematic link) , but there's a vast amount of
stimulating discussion , to which Eco's own experience as a creative writer
whose works have been translated (usually with his close cooperation) into a
variety of languages gives a particular interest .

Mike
Enrico C
2005-09-20 10:48:30 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 18 Sep 2005 19:30:41 GMT, FB wrote in
Post by FB
In other cases translation can and should be target-oriented. I will cite
an example from the translation of my novel Foucault's Pendulum whose chief
characters constantly speak in literary quotations. The purpose is to show
that it is impossible for these characters to see the world except through
literary references. Now, in chapter 57, describing an automobile trip in
the hills, the translation reads "the horizon became more vast, at every
curve the peaks grew, some crowned by little villages: we glimpsed endless
vistas." But, after "endless vistas" the Italian text went on: "al di là
della siepe, come osservava Diotallevi." If these words had been
translated, literally "beyond the hedge, as Diotallevi remarked," the
English-language reader would have lost something, for "al di la della
siepe" is a reference to the most beautiful poem of Giacomo Leopardi,
"L'infinito," which every Italian reader knows by heart. The quotation
appears at that point not because I wanted to tell the reader there was a
hedge anywhere nearby, but because I wanted to show how Diotallevi could
experience the landscape only by linking it to his experience of the poem.
I told my translators that the hedge was not important, nor the reference
to Leopardi, but it was important to have a literary reference at any cost.
In fact, William Weaver's translation reads: "We glimpsed endless vistas.
Like Darien," Diotallevi remarked..." This brief allusion to the Keats
sonnet is a good example of target-oriented translation.
Io penso che una libertà del genere il Traduttore di un testo letterario
[diverso il caso di altri tipi di testi] possa permettersela solo con la
benedizione dell'Autore, com'è avvenuto in questo caso, dove il Traduttore
ha seguito i suggerimenti di Eco. Altrimenti, il Lettore del testo tradotto
non potrà cogliere i riferimenti del testo originario al *suo* mondo e al
mondo dei personaggi, che sono riferimenti a *quel* mondo e non riferimenti
purchessia.
Mischiando un po' il sacro e il profano, sarebbe come tradurre
"Thanksgiving Day Parade" in una battuta di 'Friends' con "sfilata di
Carnevale", solo perché molti italiani non conoscono la parata di New York
e conoscono invece le sfilate di carnevale.
Non voglio dire che alcuni adattamenti, anche di nomi propri, luoghi,
situazioni, non siano utili in alcuni casi particolari, ma dovrebbero
rimanere l'ultima carta da giocare quando altre soluzioni non sono
possibili. L'ideale, di solito, è conservare sia la funzione delle parole
[ad esempio, affinché la battuta di 'Friends' funzioni mi serve far capire
che parlo di una sfilata] sia il riferimento che mi parla di quel mondo e
non di altri [è proprio la parata del giorno del Ringraziamento a New York,
dove vivono i protagonisti di 'Friends', non una qualsiasi sfilata].
Tornando al libro di Eco [che non ho letto], bisognerebbe anche vedere
quanto sia verosimile che il personaggio Diotallevi [è italiano?] citi in
quel punto un sonetto di Keats piuttosto che la "siepe" di Leopardi, che
per un personaggio italiano sarebbe appunto un ovvio richiamo dopo
"glimpsed endless vistas". Se Eco dice che va bene così, ovviamente va
bene, lui è l'Autore e può far dire quel che vuole ai suoi personaggi. Ma
un Traduttore da solo avrebbe molti dubbi, secondo me, prima di cambiare
una citazione di Leopardi in una di Keats per i lettori anglofoni, o una
"Thanksgiving Day Parade" in una "Sfilata dei Carri di Viareggio" per i
lettori italiani, o un "Ercole contro l'Idra" in "Superman contro Joker"
per i lettori moderni! ;)
--
Enrico C

...still legal tender...
Mike Brewer
2005-09-21 01:11:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Enrico C
On Sun, 18 Sep 2005 19:30:41 GMT, FB wrote in
Post by FB
In other cases translation can and should be target-oriented. I will cite
an example from the translation of my novel Foucault's Pendulum whose chief
characters constantly speak in literary quotations. The purpose is to show
that it is impossible for these characters to see the world except through
literary references. Now, in chapter 57, describing an automobile trip in
the hills, the translation reads "the horizon became more vast, at every
curve the peaks grew, some crowned by little villages: we glimpsed endless
vistas." But, after "endless vistas" the Italian text went on: "al di là
della siepe, come osservava Diotallevi." If these words had been
translated, literally "beyond the hedge, as Diotallevi remarked," the
English-language reader would have lost something, for "al di la della
siepe" is a reference to the most beautiful poem of Giacomo Leopardi,
"L'infinito," which every Italian reader knows by heart. The quotation
appears at that point not because I wanted to tell the reader there was a
hedge anywhere nearby, but because I wanted to show how Diotallevi could
experience the landscape only by linking it to his experience of the poem.
I told my translators that the hedge was not important, nor the reference
to Leopardi, but it was important to have a literary reference at any cost.
In fact, William Weaver's translation reads: "We glimpsed endless vistas.
Like Darien," Diotallevi remarked..." This brief allusion to the Keats
sonnet is a good example of target-oriented translation.
Io penso che una libertà del genere il Traduttore di un testo letterario
[diverso il caso di altri tipi di testi] possa permettersela solo con la
benedizione dell'Autore, com'è avvenuto in questo caso, dove il Traduttore
ha seguito i suggerimenti di Eco. Altrimenti, il Lettore del testo tradotto
non potrà cogliere i riferimenti del testo originario al *suo* mondo e al
mondo dei personaggi, che sono riferimenti a *quel* mondo e non riferimenti
purchessia.
Mischiando un po' il sacro e il profano, sarebbe come tradurre
"Thanksgiving Day Parade" in una battuta di 'Friends' con "sfilata di
Carnevale", solo perché molti italiani non conoscono la parata di New York
e conoscono invece le sfilate di carnevale.
Non voglio dire che alcuni adattamenti, anche di nomi propri, luoghi,
situazioni, non siano utili in alcuni casi particolari, ma dovrebbero
rimanere l'ultima carta da giocare quando altre soluzioni non sono
possibili. L'ideale, di solito, è conservare sia la funzione delle parole
[ad esempio, affinché la battuta di 'Friends' funzioni mi serve far capire
che parlo di una sfilata] sia il riferimento che mi parla di quel mondo e
non di altri [è proprio la parata del giorno del Ringraziamento a New York,
dove vivono i protagonisti di 'Friends', non una qualsiasi sfilata].
Tornando al libro di Eco [che non ho letto], bisognerebbe anche vedere
quanto sia verosimile che il personaggio Diotallevi [è italiano?] citi in
quel punto un sonetto di Keats piuttosto che la "siepe" di Leopardi, che
per un personaggio italiano sarebbe appunto un ovvio richiamo dopo
"glimpsed endless vistas". Se Eco dice che va bene così, ovviamente va
bene, lui è l'Autore e può far dire quel che vuole ai suoi personaggi. Ma
un Traduttore da solo avrebbe molti dubbi, secondo me, prima di cambiare
una citazione di Leopardi in una di Keats per i lettori anglofoni, o una
"Thanksgiving Day Parade" in una "Sfilata dei Carri di Viareggio" per i
lettori italiani, o un "Ercole contro l'Idra" in "Superman contro Joker"
per i lettori moderni! ;)
I think that Eco's point is well made here ; it's not at all analogous to
the 'Thansgiving Day' business . For a start , nobody needs to have it
established that Diotallevi , a character soaked in literature , is familiar
with the most famous line of Leopardi ; to know that there is a reference
specifically to Leopardi adds nothing to our understanding of Diotallevi .
However , these 'quotations' are unattributed ; so literally not one reader
in a million of the English translation would pick up the literary reference
of 'beyond the hedge' (the number of English readers- not a great deal
larger - who would pick it up in Italian would be reading the Italian
original anyway) ; in that case , the whole point of the borrowing , which
is to reinforce the idea that Diotallevi experiences everything through
literature , is entirely lost ; replace it with the unattributed reference
to Keats , and the English reader gets exactly that vague feeling of
something experienced in terms of memories of romantic poetry (most readers
likely to be reading the book at all , in English , will have at least a
faint echo of the Keats line in their minds) . Obviously I might be wrong ,
but I think it extraordinarily unlikely that most readers , any more than I
, would stop and think ,'Oh , isn't that from Keats ? and isn't it odd that
Diotallevi should be referring to an English poet ?' Even if we did
consciously register 'Keats' , we wouldn't think it odd that such a
well-read person should be familiar with one of the best-known lines of our
romantic poetry (see below) . In 'Mouse and Rat' , Eco gives other examples
, e.g. Casaubon says :
-La sera ere dolce ma , come avrebbe scritto Belbo nei suoi files , esausto
di letteratura , non spirava un alito di vento.
The last 6 words are apparently (I wouldn't have known) a recognisable
quotation from 'I promessi sposi' ;Weaver's version was :
-It was a mild evening ... there was naught but a lovely sighing of the wind
(Keats again)
and Eco particularly liked the German version :
-Es war eine schöner Abend ...kein Lufthauch regte sich , über alle Gipfeln
war Ruh (actually adding a quotation from Goethe) .

Going off at a slight tangent , we probably assume educated Italians know
more of our literature than they really do ; but I think that however much
or little you think we know of your literature , you will be making a gross
overestimate . Even the name 'Leopardi' will be unknown to most educated
people here . We have some familiarity with your painters and sculptors ,
especially of the Renaissance ; we know your composers ; but how many could
name any Italian writer before Verga , except Dante and Petrarch ? And how
many have read those two , even in translation ? I except Boccaccio :
translations of the Decameron (usually illustrated with colour plates!) were
quite popular in the early to middle years of the last century - a sort of
soft porn , but very few will have read Boccaccio in the original . Those
who've studied literature will have come across the names of Marino and
Ariosto and Pico della Mirandola etc. - but are extremely unlikely to have
read them . (Obviously , I exclude those who've been through university
Italian departments - but that won't be many , and doesn't nowadays
guarantee a great breadth of literary experience) . Even when it comes to
more modern literature , Moravia became quite well-known here (after the
film versions of his books) - again , largely because of their risqué aura -
but the rest are little known ; your films of twentieth-century Italian
novels don't seem to show up in England , even when they have English actors
in them (e.g. Rupert Everett , I think , was in 'Gli Occhiali d'Oro') . The
fact is that the educated English are mostly (I include myself)
extraordinarily ignorant of the literary culture of any other country apart
from France .

Mike
Enrico C
2005-09-21 10:46:48 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 02:11:58 +0100, Mike Brewer wrote in
Post by Mike Brewer
I think that Eco's point is well made here ; it's not at all analogous to
the 'Thanksgiving Day' business . For a start , nobody needs to have it
established that Diotallevi , a character soaked in literature ,
Good point! I thought of that possibility too, actually, i.e. that
Diotallevi is portrayed just as that, being a learned man soaked in
literature, more than anything else. I didn't know though (not having read
the book) whether he still retains a distinctively Italian flavour, and
thus quotes Italian authors most of the times, or he has a wider,
international literary education... In the latter case, Keats's verses
wouldn't sound odd in his mouth. And, I daresay, even if Diotallevi didn't
have a cosmopolitan culture in the original, he gets one in the English
translation, a fully legitimate one as long as the Author himself suggested
that, widening up Diotallevi's knowledge in that same moment!

My point, though, isn't that Eco was wrong in doing what he did! I would
rather underline that his example doesn't fit for all cases, as in most
stories the characters are strictly bound to their own national background
(as in my Thanksgiving Day example), which a translator shouldn't
lightheartedly modify, at the risk of turning some "local guy" into a
"cosmopolitan guy"!
Post by Mike Brewer
is familiar
with the most famous line of Leopardi ; to know that there is a reference
specifically to Leopardi adds nothing to our understanding of Diotallevi .
However , these 'quotations' are unattributed ; so literally not one reader
in a million of the English translation would pick up the literary reference
of 'beyond the hedge' (the number of English readers- not a great deal
larger - who would pick it up in Italian would be reading the Italian
original anyway) ; in that case , the whole point of the borrowing , which
is to reinforce the idea that Diotallevi experiences everything through
literature , is entirely lost ;
Well, I think there are other ways to retain it, too. For instance, by
attributing the quotations, in the text or in foot-notes. Again, I am not
saying Eco should have done this, but in other cases that might work too.
Post by Mike Brewer
replace it with the unattributed reference
to Keats , and the English reader gets exactly that vague feeling of
something experienced in terms of memories of romantic poetry (most readers
likely to be reading the book at all , in English , will have at least a
faint echo of the Keats line in their minds) . Obviously I might be wrong ,
but I think it extraordinarily unlikely that most readers , any more than I
, would stop and think ,'Oh , isn't that from Keats ? and isn't it odd that
Diotallevi should be referring to an English poet ?' Even if we did
consciously register 'Keats' , we wouldn't think it odd that such a
well-read person should be familiar with one of the best-known lines of our
romantic poetry (see below) .
[...]
Post by Mike Brewer
more of our literature than they really do ; but I think that however much
or little you think we know of your literature , you will be making a gross
overestimate . Even the name 'Leopardi' will be unknown to most educated
people here .
If that is the case, let's imagine an English character, a Mr. Godfoster,
citing Leopardi in the Italian translation of an English novel, rather than
Keats. How lifelike would that be? Only few readers would spot that,
perhaps, but the character would lose a bit of his own identity anyway, and
we wouldn't get to know him "as he is", with all his virtues and some
limitations too. Later, were we to meet a real-life educated Mr. Godfoster,
we would be surprised he hasn't a clue about Mr. Leopardi and his work, as
you said. ;)
--
Enrico C

...still legal tender...
FB
2005-09-21 11:34:42 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 12:46:48 +0200, Enrico C wrote:

[...]
Post by Enrico C
Good point! I thought of that possibility too, actually, i.e. that
Diotallevi is portrayed just as that, being a learned man soaked in
literature, more than anything else. I didn't know though (not having read
the book) whether he still retains a distinctively Italian flavour, and
thus quotes Italian authors most of the times, or he has a wider,
international literary education...
I think the reverse wouldn't have done the trick---had the character been
English, that is. The translator couldn't have used a quotation from
Leopardi in lieu of the original one. Much as Leopardi was a great poet and
writer. Oh, Mike Brewer might like to read the "Zibaldone", which is
available in the original on www.liberliber.it, if I remember correctly.


[...]
Post by Enrico C
Post by Mike Brewer
the whole point of the borrowing , which
is to reinforce the idea that Diotallevi experiences everything through
literature , is entirely lost ;
Well, I think there are other ways to retain it, too. For instance, by
attributing the quotations, in the text or in foot-notes. Again, I am not
saying Eco should have done this, but in other cases that might work too.
I wouldn't have done what Eco did. Carrying feelings and impressions is
important, but the very words Eco wrote are just different... The same
character can't cite Leopardi in Italian, Keats in English and Goethe in
German... It means dumbing down the book a little bit, in my opinion. I
prefer to assume that Czytwikwzizk is a Polish writer (I just typed the
most tangled consonant cluster I could think of) rather than read an
Italian adaptation for lazy readers. The former operation is to some extent
artificial, but it reflects the truth. Besides, if one reads a book by an
Italian author, I would think he's willing to learn something about Italian
culture.


[...]


Ciao, FB
--
Sir Robert Chiltern: And women represent the irrational.
Mrs. Cheveley: Well-dressed women do.
("An Ideal Husband", Oscar Wilde)
Enrico C
2005-09-21 13:22:11 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 11:34:42 GMT, FB wrote in
Post by FB
I wouldn't have done what Eco did. Carrying feelings and impressions is
important, but the very words Eco wrote are just different... The same
character can't cite Leopardi in Italian, Keats in English and Goethe in
German... It means dumbing down the book a little bit, in my opinion. I
prefer to assume that Czytwikwzizk is a Polish writer (I just typed the
most tangled consonant cluster I could think of) rather than read an
Italian adaptation for lazy readers. The former operation is to some extent
artificial, but it reflects the truth. Besides, if one reads a book by an
Italian author, I would think he's willing to learn something about Italian
culture.
Un altro caso interessante si può trovare in Alice nel Paese delle
Meraviglie. Basandosi sull'unica spiaggia che aveva visto in vita sua, la
piccola Alice descrive quella che per lei è una tipica spiaggia inglese
dell'epoca:
"Alice had been to the seaside once in her life, and had come to the
general conclusion, that wherever you go to on the English coast you find a
number of bathing machines in the sea, some children digging in the sand
with wooden spades, then a row of lodging houses, and behind them a railway
station."
Uno dei traduttori italiani di Alice's Adventures in Wonderland [come ho
scoperto leggendo un saggetto sulla traduzione] ha però deciso di omettere
del tutto le "bathing machines" dalla versione italiana, tagliando
semplicemente l'espressione e lasciando solo una spiegazione in nota. Il
motivo? Forse sarebbe stato troppo complicato spiegare al lettore italiano
un macchinario che sulle spiagge di oggi non esiste più: cabine mobili che
entravano nell'acqua del mare scorrendo su delle rotaie e permettevano così
ai bagnanti inglesi dell'Ottocento di fare il bagno conservando la massima
privacy! O forse il traduttore ha pensato che quella strana presenza, in
fondo poco rivelante ai fini del racconto, avrebbe reso quella "tipica
spiaggia" ben poco tipica agli occhi del lettore moderno!
Anche in questo caso, tuttavia, l'intervento "chiarificatore" a me pare
opinabile, perché in realtà modifica profondamente il testo: il lettore
non saprà mai di quelle macchine per fare il bagno, che magari non sono
l'argomento principale del libro, ma ci fanno sentire per un attimo l'odore
dell'epoca vittoriana con la sua pruderie, e forse apparivano strane, buffe
e macchinose anche a Lewis Carroll! ;)
--
Enrico C

...still legal tender...
Mike Brewer
2005-09-22 02:29:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by FB
writer. Oh, Mike Brewer might like to read the "Zibaldone
Scherzi ! I've read a few pages , and it's quite interesting - but 974 pages
! There are probably other things I need to read first !

Mike
FB
2005-09-22 09:48:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Brewer
Post by FB
writer. Oh, Mike Brewer might like to read the "Zibaldone
Scherzi ! I've read a few pages , and it's quite interesting - but 974 pages
! There are probably other things I need to read first !
I don't think it's necessary to read it through; especially because it's
not meant to be a book with a beginning and an end.


Bye, FB
--
I sometimes get the feeling that those who teach the language know less
about it than anybody.
(Don Aitken on alt.usage.english)
Mike Brewer
2005-09-22 13:13:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by FB
Post by Mike Brewer
Post by FB
writer. Oh, Mike Brewer might like to read the "Zibaldone
Scherzi ! I've read a few pages , and it's quite interesting - but 974 pages
! There are probably other things I need to read first !
I don't think it's necessary to read it through; especially because it's
not meant to be a book with a beginning and an end.
True , and thanks for the reference ; there is indeed a lot of interesting
stuff there , and I shall certainly dip in from time to time (despite the
fact that he seems to prefer Petrarca to Ovid) .

Mike

Enrico C
2005-09-21 12:52:16 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 12:46:48 +0200, Enrico C wrote in
Post by Enrico C
thus quotes Italian authors most of the times
"most of the time"
--
Enrico C

...still legal tender...
Enrico C
2005-09-20 11:04:39 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 18 Sep 2005 19:30:41 GMT, FB wrote in
Post by FB
These are not easy problems. Consider Tolstoy's War And Peace. As many
know, this novel -- written in Russian, of course -- begins with a long
dialogue in French. I have no idea how many Russian readers in Tolstoy's
day understood French; the aristocrats surely did because this French
dialogue is meant, in fact, to depict the customs of aristocratic Russian
society. Perhaps Tolstoy took it for granted that, in his day, those who
did not know French were not even able to read Russian. Or else he wanted
the non-French-speaking reader to understand that the aristocrats of the
Napoleonic period were, in fact, so remote from Russian national life that
they spoke in an incomprehensible fashion. Today if you re-read those
pages, you will realize that it is not important to understand what those
characters are saying, because they speak of trivial things. What is
important is to understand that they are saying those things in French. A
problem that has always fascinated me is this: How would you translate the
first chapter of War And Peace into French? The reader reads a book in
French and in it some of the characters are speaking French; nothing
strange about that. If the translator adds a note to the dialogue saying en
francais dans le text, it is of scant help: the effect is still lost.
Perhaps, to achieve that effect, the aristocrats (in the French
translation) should speak English. I am glad I did not write War And Peace
and am not obliged to argue with my French translator.
Questa è la soluzione solitamente adottata nei doppiaggi dei film, mi pare:
il personaggio italiano nella versione originale inglese viene spesso fatto
diventare spagnolo, probabilmente perché si ritiengono lingue e popoli
simili. In un racconto scritto, però, questa soluzione mi sembrerebbe del
tutto artificiosa. Gli aristocratici russi di Tolstoj che parlano inglese?
Penso che Eco lo dica scherzosamente, e infatti conclude dicendosi lieto di
non essere lui l'Autore di Guerra e Pace, così non deve affrontare il
problema con il Traduttore francese! Meglio, secondo me, una nota che
spieghi "In francese nel testo originale", lasciando la parte in francese
come scritta da Tolstoj. Così però si perde l'effetto? Forse non del tutto,
perché il francese di Tolstoj potrebbe essere un po' diverso da quello
moderno usato dal Traduttore per tradurre il resto del libro russo.
--
Enrico C

...still legal tender...
Enrico C
2005-09-20 11:18:46 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 18 Sep 2005 19:30:41 GMT, FB wrote in
Post by FB
Perhaps the Pure Language does not exist, but pitting one language against
another is a splendid adventure, and it is not necessarily true, as the
Italian saying goes, that the translator is always a traitor. Provided that
the author takes part in this admirable treason.
Il Traduttore non tradisce solo se l'Autore collabora alla traduzione? Non
so. Magari potrebbe anche succedere che l'Autore tradisca sé stesso,
suggerendo un adattamento autografo più che una traduzione!
--
Enrico C

...still legal tender...
Mike Brewer
2005-09-20 22:41:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Enrico C
On Sun, 18 Sep 2005 19:30:41 GMT, FB wrote in
Post by FB
Perhaps the Pure Language does not exist, but pitting one language against
another is a splendid adventure, and it is not necessarily true, as the
Italian saying goes, that the translator is always a traitor. Provided that
the author takes part in this admirable treason.
Il Traduttore non tradisce solo se l'Autore collabora alla traduzione? Non
so. Magari potrebbe anche succedere che l'Autore tradisca sé stesso,
suggerendo un adattamento autografo più che una traduzione!
--
In 'Mouse and Rat' Eco discusses the interesting case of 'Finnegan's Wake'
, which incredibly has been translated several times , Joyce himself
translating it into Italian . Joyce's version is much more of a
're-creation' than the others (Eco quotes from a French and another Italian
version) , and Eco comments , 'It shows to what extent the principle of
equal reference can be violated for the sake of a *deeply* equivalent
translation .' Eco found himself pushed in the same direction when
translating Queneau's 'Exercices de style' into Italian (a project he
discusses at length) .

Mike
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