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Re: Art of Translation 07.29.03

Bill Ratliff writes: "The problems of translation depend on what one is translating. Shortly after I moved to Taiwan more than 30 years ago to teach English, I tried to translate some Chinese poetry into English with the help of a very bright student, who in recent decades has been a professor of Chinese philosophy at an Ivy League university. It didn't work. We just couldn't find the words, in large part because no English words could possibly convey the allusions of the Chinese.

Ezra Pound "resolved" this problem when translating Chinese classical poetry largely by paraphrasing and re-writing, which was an interesting exercise, but, as John Heelan says, it was extremely subjective.

On the other hand, when several years later I translated an interview Che Guevara had given to several Chinese newsmen, printed in a Chinese international affairs magazine and nowhere else, the style was secondary and the content primary. There was no problem passing on the content, in at least an approximate "Che" style, and the translation has been included in many anthologies of Che's work and even subjected to subsequent re-translation into other Western languages".

Ronald Hilton - 07.29.03