|late nights with F.S. & J.J.
||[Oct. 25th, 2010|01:55 am]
I want an actual drink, you guys.
Attempting to generate some sort of a point, again. Reading Fritz Senn's delightful essay 'Translation as Approach' and I wonder whether the man's written anything that isn't delightful. This one's the first essay from Joyce's Dislocutions. So I took a Wakean route and read the last essay first and followed up with this--yeah, yeah, OK, so, it had all those words in it--I don't know what order he actually wrote these essays in, but I can see having the impulse to write 'Dislocution' after writing 'Translation as Approach', because the approach makes one a dislocutin' wretch. Hello. Watching him unravel a simple sentence from Ulysses by looking at all the different translations of it and all the different things various translators opted to stress--well, heck, it's not entirely like reading 'The Building of Ithaca' was. How not at all surprising. It's certainly reminiscent of the intense polyvalence Senn ascribes to most Joycean sentences in 'Dislocution', or whatever it is that gives Ulysses its undiluted dislocutory quality. It makes translation a hell, that quality does, but with no notion of translation it'd be lost and dull. So.
Probably what I will write this week is something about Ithaca and translation again, since I'm trying to hit that target and Senn puts me at a favorable distance. Also, I feel I should consider these two terrific tidbits from Ellmann's biography:
But there was a limitation upon even his candor; as Stanislaus said shrewdly in his diary, ‘Jim is thought to be very frank about himself but his style is such that it might be contended that he confesses in a foreign language—an easier confession than in the vulgar tongue.’ (148)
[In Italian lessons, Joyce] sometimes used Ulysses to demonstrate that even English, that best of languages, was inadequate. ‘Aren’t there enough words for you in English?’ they asked him. ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘there are enough, but they aren’t the right ones.’(397)
Relevant, I think.
Reading Ellmann has been a treat. He really is a dedicated biographer, and tremendously engaging, though I know nothing of the art so I can't say whether he's Good or not--though his Joyce biography is rather the definitive one. He's collected so many wonderful quotes and scraps of paper and anecdotes to put together a great collage at the very least. I think Joyce would've approved. Even if Ellmann has revealed that an early transcription of Joyce's doings could have been titled "James Joyce Borrows Money from Everyone."
I would've loved to hear him sing.
1. studying translation as approach will “tell us something about the nature of translation and about its limitations; on the other hand, it will oblige us to take a closer look at the original, from perhaps several angles.”
Joyce also helped and encouraged translations, despite only believing the original text to be authentic—any translation is flawed and inauthentic and polluted by the translator, but. but. Dedalus & his son. If failure, commit to it.
2. The entire first paragraph on this page could be describing Joyce’s own ‘translations’, or different approaches in Ulysses, “diverse points of view, reflections in mirrors throwing back light on the original”, etc. of course, in Joyce’s case there is in fact no original save his own imagination…ah, well, except for all the reality he plundered to get half the events of Ulysses. that’s not translation. but. I guess, a little. that’s, that’s what Ithaca is doing, for What Actually Happens (haha)
the translator “is almost the only one who is professionally obliged to examine every single word.” Imagine doing that for Ithaca! God. Joyce looks at every single word. Not just as an author (not all authors really do that) but as his damn weird self. That Frank Budgen anecdote… "I don't know what order they go in!"
“we do not grant him the selectivity of the critic” again, this is something we do not grant the author either
3. Fritz Senn says Oxen of the Sun = a series of translations; says also translation is a “rather minor theme” in the novel (I disagree; I think it is a rather major one) (I mean, what?) (!!!)
horizontal as opposed to vertical translations??? interesting
4. “on the other hand, language does not consist of simple labels for clearly defined things, actions, and relations that could be replaced and interchanged” otherwise Ithaca would actually make sense or alternately be completely unnecessary,
5. “hardly anything can be discounted as inessential” ………..which means that it’s easy to discount a lot. needle. haystack.
“the search for errors in translation, though deeply gratifying to our malevolence and a gleeful pastime of fellow translators, is perhaps the least profitable pursuit.” Thank you.
6. “the wrong translation nevertheless catches some undercurrent”
10. “The correct, literal translation can falsify a meaning.” Ithaca Ithaca Ithaca.
translation makes the dislocution crawl back into its hidey-hole.
11-12. French translators opting for less literal but sounding more like what it’s meant to sound like—having to choose between sound and sense—that’s something that Joyce hates to choose between. Joyce: all of the above. All of the Above needs to be part of a subtitle for an Ithaca paper.
“On the other hand, some naïve insouciance, or an intuitive grasp, might prepare the translator better to square the Joycean eccentric circles than the necessarily fearful tread of the systematic scholar.”
(readers of Joyce must follow Joyce back through Joyce’s own translation process. this is not entirely new. it’s not new at all, but it’s highlighted here. so, a translation of Ulysses—already a translation—basically makes the journey to the source longer & more treacherous. Odyssean even. Dammit. I'm thinking, heightened security anyway.)
18. Dude, it’s not like English readers get all the references either.
20. “But once we acknowledge that a translation cannot, in the nature of language, be all things toall readers (as Ulysses seems to be) we may come to realize that we do not know what can reasonably be expected of a translation.” …..Ulysses is not all things to all readers. Hello; you’ve joined momentarily the Joyce-is-God club, a company among whom Joyce does not even count himself. One can get a sense of allness, of allroundedness, and discuss it as an idea, but nobody can apprehend the whole of it—not even Joyce, I suspect, whose tone seems so exacting and yet lively enough to have been improvisational. Were Ulysses what you say, too, it’d be a bit more widely read by people who aren’t translators or “language’s magpies by nature” (if I may borrow the phrase from Rushdie). If what we reasonably expect from an author is that his book be “all things to all readers,” then may I fail and fail again.
“translation, too, is the art of the possible” – ♥ This is something Joyce would like a lot, and that is a key to Ithaca—all the possibilities—what language can achieve—limitations exist because this is also true.
Paragraphs perchance to follow.