Goethe on Translation

The last and “highest” phase in Goethe’s translation model occurs when the translator wishes to make original and translation perfectly identical, so that the one can e validly interchanged with the other. This mode generally finds resistance on the part of the reading public, for the translator who so strongly identifies with the original essentially gives up the originality (“Originalität”) of his own country. Ultimately, however, this mode of translation is of greatest value to the public and its mother tongue, for the unique rhythms and meters in the foreign idiom that the translator attempts to approximate, at first so strange and unappealing to mass taste, ultimately expands the variety, the suppleness of the mother tongue (3:555-56). This phase is similar to “style” in the domain of art; in both cases, the original object/language is represented in its unique, immanent essence.

–John Pizer, The Idea of World Literature (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2006) 9.

Axé.

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