cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

Lost in translation

Love the movie, Lost in Translation.


Roger Shattuck


“In its truest role translation does not consist solely in reducing all foreign works to the limitations of, say, English, but equally in reshaping and enlarging English to reach meanings which it has not yet had to grapple with”



Vladimir Nabokov, “The Art of Translation


Three grades of evil can be discerned in the queer world of verbal transmigration…The first, and lesser one, comprises obvious errors due to ignorance or misguided knowledge. This is mere human frailty and thus excusable.


The next step to Hell is taken by the translator who intentionally skips words or passages that he does not bother to understand or that might seem obscure or obscene to vaguely imagined readers; he accepts the blank look that his dictionary gives him without any qualms; or subject scholarship to primness: he is as ready to know less than the author as he is to think he knows better.


“The third, and worst, degree of turpitude is reached when a masterpiece is planished and patted into such a shape, vilely beautified in such fashion as to conform to the notions and prejudices of a given public. This is a crime to be punished by the stocks as plagiarists were in the shoebuckle days.”




Nabokov’s did a ‘literal’ translation into English of Pushkin’s, Eugene Onegin. (1964).


The current debate on translation is gathered around the new War and Peace by

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (October 16, 2007)



Tolstoy’s Real Hero Olando Figes New York Review of Books


The Art of Translation

Sam Tanenhaus Sunday Book Review, New York Times, 17 November 2007




A searchable War and Peace from The Literature Network

{trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude }

November 17, 2007 - Posted by | film [its techniques], Novel, translation

1 Comment »

  1. I like the Shattuck quote! I’ve been reading William Gass on translating Rilke today and loving it – I might well blog on it tomorrow.

    Comment by litlove | November 17, 2007 | Reply

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