5.0688 Translation; Deities in Details (2/55)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 17 Feb 1992 19:36:09 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0688. Monday, 17 Feb 1992.

(1) Date: Sun, 9 Feb 1992 14:05:07 -0800 (PST) (44 lines)
From: Paul Pascal <paulpasc@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: 5.0651 Rs: Translating

(2) Date: Mon, 10 Feb 92 14:00+0000 (11 lines)
Subject: divine devilishness

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 1992 14:05:07 -0800 (PST)
From: Paul Pascal <paulpasc@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: 5.0651 Rs: Translating; Memorizing (3/75)

With reference to the origin of the simile likening translations
to beautiful but unfaithful women (or vice versa), what I have to offer
is so vague that I had planned to sit this one out, but in view of what
has emerged in recent discussion, I am now inclined to go public with
the following, imprecise as it is. I apologize for the vagueness.

A notebook in which over the years I had jotted down, among other
treasures, aphorisms about translations last year became the victim of
office-cleaning incidental to retirement. (By way of advance warning
to you all--I have already had occasion to regret almost every scrap of
paper I parted with at that time.) Among these aphorisms was the one about
translations and women, beautiful chiasmus and all, in French, explicitly
ascribed to some author of the seventeenth or eighteenth century. Of all
of this I am virtually positive.

I regret that I am now unable to recover my source--it was almost fifty
years ago when I noted this down. However, I am in a position to provide
the following, from Amparo Hurtado Albir, La Notion de Fidelite en
Traduction (Paris, 1990), p. 14: "Le XVIIeme siecle francais est considere
comme l'age d'or des 'belles infideles'; l'expression date precisement de
cette epoque et on la doit a Menage qui dit a propos des traductions de
Perrot d' Ablancourt: "Elles me rappellent une femme que j'ai beaucoup
aimee a Tours, et qui etait belle mais infidele." Hurtado Albir cites
this from E. Cary, Les grands traducteurs francais (Geneva, 1963). Note
also the study of translation by the French philologian, G. Mounin,
which he entitled Les belles infideles. Perhaps further details could be
tracked down from these references.

While I am at it, I recall some other memorable French nuggets from my
notebook: one comparing a translation to a tapestry viewed from
the wrong side; and one (which I seem to recall was by a woman--Mme Dacier,
de Stael, de Sevigne?--but I couldn't swear to it) that likens translators
to servants carrying messages. Not only do they garble the messages, but
they share another fault with domestics--that is, they consider themselves
as grand as their masters--especially if their masters are very old.
The most arresting item of my collection--how could I ever have thrown
these out!--I suppose I must leave in its native French, not guaranteed
verbatim, but virtually so: "Une traduction est comme une belle femme
qui me montre son cul au lieu de son visage."

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------26----
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 92 14:00+0000
Subject: divine devilishness

(See enclosed)
In german there is a very common proverb "Der Teufel steckt im
Detail" (i never heared of M. Bregmanns version 'der liebe Gott
stekt im Detail'). Since Buechmann, gefluegelte Worte does'nt
mention it, there seems to be of non-literary origin.
Fritz Heberlein