3 jun. 2003

Jim asks about my compulsion to retranslate. I suppose it is a form of "showing off." And yes, I do think a book with, say, one poem in Spanish and 60 different translations of it would be an excellent idea, a way of "working through" the poem. And I do understand the impulse to say "Archie is doing it all wrong." What a horrible, overblown performance Carroll O'Connor turned in week after week. I would never do this with Barney Fyfe, though. You can't mess with perfection.

It used to bug me when I'd be listening to a jazz radio station and they would play some version of a monk tune with a wrong (and invevitably less interesting) rhythm. Or someone doing "Someday My Prince Will Come" in a faux Miles Davis style--with identical instrumentation, but much worse. Translation is kind of like that. The translator needs to have some flair, some critical/poetic edge. In the absence of that, endless repetition in the hopes of hitting on some brilliant solution. Hofer's versions, although often superb and quite justifiable, are very literal, almost "crib-like." Thus they seem to incite my impulse to mess around with them. (I happen to like literalism in translation, by the way.)

Maybe all this makes me a deeply strange person. But what is this compulsion to compete for blog traffic with Ron Silliman?

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