The Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, Practice

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 1993 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 302 pages
0 Reviews
In a lucid, pioneering volume, Willis Barnstone explores the history and theory of literary translation as an art form. Arguing that literary translation goes beyond the transfer of linguistic information, he emphasizes that imaginative originality resides as much in the translation as in the source text--a view that skews conventional ideas of artistic primacy.

Barnstone begins by dealing with general issues of literalness, fidelity, and originality: with translation as metaphor, aesthetic transformation, and re-creation. He looks as well at translation as a traditionally stigmatized genre. Then he discusses the history of translation, using as his paradigm the most translated book in the world, the Bible, tracing it from its original Hebrew and Greek to Jerome's Latin and the English of Tyndale and the King James Version. Citing the way authors intentionally mistranslate for religious and political purposes, Barnstone provides fascinating insights into how, by altering names in the Gospels, the Virgin Mary and Jesus cease to be Jews, the Jews are turned into villains, and Christianity becomes an original rather than a mere translation. In the next section Barnstone analyzes translation theory, ranging from the second century B.C. Letter of Aristeas to Roman Jakobson's linguistic categories and Walter Benjamin's "Task of the Translator." The book ends with an aphoristic ABC of translating.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

The poetics of translation: history, theory, practice

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

What Barnstone says about translation history and theory has authority not only because of his genial erudition and his coherent perspective but also because of his own accomplishments in translating ... Read full review

Contents

Problems and Parables
15
The Bible as Paradigm of Translation
133
History of the Bible and Its Flagrant Translations
153
Theory
219
A Semiotic Slant
226
Practice
263
Notes
273
Bibliography
279
Credits
292
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1993)

Willis Barnstone was born in Lewiston, Maine. He attended Bowdoin, Columbia, and Yale, earning his doctorate. Barnstone taught in Greece from 1949 to 1951, and in Buenos Aires during the Dirty War. He went to China during the Cultural Revolution, where he was later a Fulbright Professor of American Literature at Beijing Foreign Studies University from 1984 to 1985. Barnstone has authored more than forty books, poetry collections, poetry translations, philosophical and religious texts. He is a former O'Connor Professor of Greek at Colgate University, is a Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and is in the Institute of Biblical and Literary Studies at Indiana University. He has received numerous awards for his work, among them the Emily Dickinson Award, the W. H. Auden Award, and a PEN/Book-of-the-Month-Club Special Citation for translation. Barnstone was also a Guggenheim Fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry. His titles include The Complete Poems of Sappho,, Translated with an Introduction, Ancient Greek Lyrics, Love Poems, and Café de l'Aube à Paris, Dawn Café in Paris: Poems Composed in French and Their Translation in English.

Bibliographic information