the task of the translator

April 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

excerpts from Benjamin’s essay, “The Task of the Translator: An Introduction to the Translation of Baudelaire’s Tableux Parisiens

“It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language which is under the spell of another, to liberate that pure language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.  For the sake of pure language he breaks through decayed barriers of his own language.”

“. . . The basic error of the translator is that he preserves the state in which his own language to be powerfully affected by the foreign tongue. Particularly when translating from a language very remote from his own he must go back to the primal elements of language itself and penetrate to their point where work, image tone converge. He must expand and deepen his language by means of the foreign language.”


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