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FAITHFUL TRANSLATION IN EUROPE




In the second half of the eighteenth century, especially during the last decades, the controversy between the opponents of the strict word-for-word translation, and those who supported the free sense-to-sense translation (or simply the unrestricted free interpretation) continued unabated. In fact, new vigorous opponents appeared within both trends, the most outspoken among them were J.Campbell and A.F.Tytler in England, and the noted German philosopher and author J.G.Herder (1744-1803). Each of them came forward with sharp criticism of both extreme trends in belles-lettres translation and each demanded, though not always consistently enough, a true and com­plete rendition of content, and the structural, stylistic and artistic pe­culiarities of the belles-lettres originals under translation. These pro­claimed views regarding the requirements of truly faithful artistic trans­lation were also shared by several authors, poets and translators in

1 See: Franzel J.W., op. cited, p.46.

2 See: Heide Pohling. Zur Geschichte der Clbersetzung. In: Beihefte zurZeitschrift Fremd
Sprachen lll/IV. Studienjahr zur Ubersetzungwissenschaft. - Leipzig, 1971/p.142-143.

3 See: Heide Pohling, op. cit., p.143.


other countries, including France, where free/unrestricted translation was most widely practised. Campbell's and Tytler's requirements, as can be ascertained below, are generally alike, if not almost identical. Thus, Campbell demanded from translators of belles-lettres the following: 1) «to give a just representation of the sense of the original (the most essential); 2) to convey into his version as much as possi­ble (in consistency with the genius of his language) the author's spirit and manner, the very character of his style; 3) so that the text of the version have a natural and easy flow»1 (Chief Things to be Attended to in Translating, 1789).

A.F.Tytler's requirements, as has been mentioned, were no less radical and much similar, they included the following: 1) «the translation should give a complete transcript of the ideas of the original work; 2) the style and manner of writing should be of the same character with that of the original; 3) the translation should have the ease of an original composition.»2 (The Principles of Translation, 1792). These theoretical requirements to belles-lettres translation marked a considerable step forward in comparison to the principles which existed before the period of Enlightenment and Romanticism. At the same time both the authors lacked consistency. Campbell, for example, would admit in his Essay that translators may sometimes render only «the most essential of the original» and only «as much as possible the author's spirit and manner, the character of his style». This inconsistency of Campbell could be explained by the strong dominating influence during that period of unrestricted freedom of translation. Perhaps this explains why Campbell and Tytler quite unexpectedly favoured approval of the indisputably free versification by A.Pope of Homer's Odyssey into English.



Much more consistent in his views, and still more persistent in his intention to discard the harmful practice of strict word-for-word translation as well as of the unrestricted freedom of translating belles-lettres works was J.G.Herder (1744-1803). He visited several Euro­pean countries including Ukraine and studied their national folksongs, the most characteristic of which he translated into German and published in 1778-79. Herder was captivated by the beauty of the national songs of the Ukrainian people, for whom he prophesied a brilliant cultural future. Herder himself, a successful versifier of songs,

1 See: Heide Pohling, op. cit., p.159.

2 See: Franzel W., op. cit., p.163, 166; Draper J.W., op. cit., p.247.

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understood the inner power of these kinds of literary works and consequently demanded that all translators of prose and poetic works render strictly, fully and faithfully not only the richness of content, but also the stylistic peculiarities, the artistic beauty and the spirit of the source language works. His resolute criticism of the unrestricted freedom of translation and verbalism found strong support among the most outstanding German poets such as Gothe and Schiller among other prominent authors. He also found support among the literary critics in Germany and other countries. This new approach, or rather a new principle of truly faithful literary translation, was born during the period of Enlightenment and developed during early Romanticism (the last decades of the eighteenth century). It began slowly but persistently to gain ground in the first decades of the nineteenth century. This faithful/realistic principle, naturally, was not employed in all European countries at once. After centuries long employment the word-for-word and unrestricted free translation could not be discarded overnight. As a result, the free sense-to-sense translation/unrestricted free translation as well as free adaptation (or regular rehash) continued to be widely employed in Europe throughout the first half of the nineteenth century and even much later. In Russia and in Ukraine, free sense-to-sense translation/free adaptation was steadily practised almost uninterruptedly both during the first and second halves of the nine­teenth century. Among the eighteenth century Russian poets who constantly resorted to free sense-to-sense translation and free adaptation were Lomonosov, Sumarokov, Trediakovskii and others. In Ukraine, free sense-to-sense translation in the second half of the eighteenth century was occasionally employed by H.Skovoroda (in his translations from the Latin). During the nineteenth century the number of free interpretations increased considerably, among the authors in Russia being Zhukovskii, Pushkin, Katenin and Vvedenskii1, and in Ukrainian P.Hulak-Artemovs'kyi, P.Bielets'kyi-Nossenko and others. Every translator mostly employed free sense-to-sense trans­lation or even free adaptation of foreign poetic and prose works. Only Zhukovskii would sometimes change his former practice and try to versify some poetic works as, for instance, Byron's Prisoner of Chilton (1819) faithfully, i.e., conveying full sense, the poetic meter and the artistic merits of the original work.



1 See: Федоров А.В. Основьі общей теории перевода. - Москва, 1983, р.43-45, 52.



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