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Introduction

Shirley Chew
Affiliation:
Leeds University
Alistair Stead
Affiliation:
University of Leeds
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Summary

Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light

Miles Smith, Preface to King James version of the Bible

This volume, comprising many individual but conceptually interrelated studies, sets out to multiply perspectives on the concept of translation, making it intellectually generative, an invaluable prompter to reinterpretation of texts and fresh theoretical reflections on pertinent critical issues. Mindful that the ideally singular light radiating from translation as conceived by the translators of the King James Bible might actually be refracted through manifold interpretations, our twenty-two collaborators read and reread through what we would call the prism of translation, shedding on the concept and the texts, to bend one of Philip Larkin's luminous epithets, a ‘many-angled light’.

The identification of reading with translation has by now a distinguished literary pedigree (one thinks of a line of modern writers from Proust to Calvino who have either claimed that reading entails an act of translation or, more challengingly, that translation is the only proper way to read a text). ‘Reading is already translation, and translation is translation for the second time,’ wrote Hans-Georg Gadamer, and this is dynamically related to writing, also seen by Proust as, ideally, translation. ‘In the act of writing, the author is producing a complicated translation of the “text” of the world; we generate a second translation in our attempt to return to the “native tongue of reality”.’ Others have gone on to multiply the number of translations involved in these writings and readings, notably Octavio Paz and Jacques Derrida, so that perception, speech, writing, reading, criticism, all participate in the same interpretative act. But the basis of translation proper, and of the interpretations of and through translation included in this book, remains the same: that close reading of texts on which translation has always to depend.

Type
Chapter
Information
Translating Life
Studies in Transpositional Aesthetics
, pp. 1 - 14
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2000

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