Chapter

Are Translations Interpretations? Gadamer, Lowell, and Some Contemporary Poem‐Translations

Matthew Reynolds

in The Poetry of Translation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199605712
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731617 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605712.003.0008
Are Translations Interpretations? Gadamer, Lowell, and Some Contemporary Poem‐Translations

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‘Every translation is an interpretation’ is a cliché of modern criticism: I take it as the first of my metaphors of translation. Its meaning is uncertain because ‘interpretation’ is itself such a hazy word. Nevertheless, for literary translators the idea creates a difficulty because an ‘interpretation’ is always assumed to be less complex than what it is an interpretation of: if translation is interpretation it will be hard for a translation to be as literary as its source. I explore this perplexity through the work of Robert Lowell, Peter Robinson, and Jamie McKendrick, showing how they all espouse the push to interpret (so as to be translating) and turn away from it (so as to be writing poetry). I distinguish between a kind of ‘turning away’ which does violence to the source, and a kind which justifies itself as continuing the source's own imaginative activity.

Keywords: translation; interpretation; Umberto Eco; Hans‐Georg Gadamer; Robert Lowell; Peter Robinson; Jamie McKendrick

Chapter.  6429 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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