13 ago. 2011

Poetry the Least Translated Genre?

Venuti says that poetry is the least translated genre, or may be the least translated genre today. If this is true, then I think this is an enormous opportunity. Let's, all of us, translate more poetry. Starting right now. Let's make poetry the second least translated genre, at least.

9 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

I've been doing my share, but this inspires me to get back to it (after a rather long break).

chrischaos dijo...

i am pretty sure is the last translated genre. unless u count lyrics.

Vance Maverick dijo...

Isn't this a case where the conventional wisdom -- encapsulated in the Frost cliché -- is just correct? Poetry is harder to translate, and translated poetry is harder to read. Take Mandelstam in English: amazing prose works, narrow puzzling poems. One reads them, of course, with a special indulgence and tries to imagine the Russian poem behind that text -- to do better, one would have to learn the original language.

Jonathan dijo...

That doesn't explain why some poets are translated over and over again and some not at all.

This is actually surprising to me, because I thought poetry was translated quite a bit. Every good poet I know translates... I actually think drama is the least translated genre, but I could be wrong.

Vance Maverick dijo...

I agree that my suggestion doesn't answer the question you didn't ask. ;-) The spottiness or clumpiness of translation may be due to simple market thinking -- if I'm looking around for the next thing to translate, it'll be hard not to be influenced by the demonstrated tastes of my audience. You don't get to be Stephen Mitchell just by introducing previously untranslated work.

But I think this problem is more tractable than the general one of difficulty -- publishers and translators can choose to spread themselves more widely.

Jonathan dijo...

Sorry, I was just following my own thought processes.

It's the opposite with novels. Once a novel is translated, that's it. Only classics from previous centuries are re-translated. But once a poet becomes fashionable, he or she is translated over and over.

Vance Maverick dijo...

Very true, and I think also a clue to the other question. Two translations of one novel, if made at roughly the same time, will be more similar than two translations of one poem.

Andrew Shields dijo...

Lorca, Rimbaud, Rilke, over and over again!

Andrew Shields dijo...

Novels that do get re-translated come out in new versions as soon as the copyright expires, and always for the same reason: perceived inadequacy of the original translation.