Translating the Language of Literature

Matthew Reynolds

in The Poetry of Translation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199605712
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731617 | DOI:
Translating the Language of Literature

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I explore the idea of ‘functional equivalence’ further with help from John Lyons, Theo Hermans, and Susanne Langer. I show that poetic translation does in fact rely on this notion to some extent. But poetry translators also repeatedly claim to have ‘got’ or ‘given’ something of their originals. This ‘something’ is brought into being by a collaboration between translator and source: I illustrate the process with a translation of Montale by Paul Muldoon. When you enter into this collaboration you turn away from ‘alikeness’ in translation (as Walter Benjamin put it); but not to enter into it is not to read the poem. There are, then, two ways in which the metaphor of ‘carrying across’ can apply to poetic translation: first, the rough matching of function that occurs in all translation; secondly, a grasping of something that has been imagined out of the source.

Keywords: functional equivalence; Theo Hermans; John Lyons; Walter Benjamin; Paul Muldoon; Eugenio Montale

Chapter.  2883 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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