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The Indecisive Muse: Ethics in Translation and the Idea of History

The Indecisive Muse: Ethics in Translation and the Idea of History 1 I wish to acknowledge the generous support of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School Research fund, which made much of the work on this essay possible. a first version of “The Indecisive Muse” was presented in September 2003 at The English Institute, Harvard University. I have profited immensely from conversations about translation in general, and about this essay in particular, with Patricia lópez, who read a draft carefully, intelligently, and most generously. Where no translator is named, the translation is my own. CLJ604-01lezra.indd 301 COMPaRaTIVE lITERaTURE / 302 if not unwilling to render into Spanish the french jeux de mots.2 “Juego de palabras intraducible,” she or he wrote when the going got sticky, closing off to Spanish readers of the books the avenue of the linguistically unfaithful but culturally correlative pun — something on the order of turning the name of Obélix’s minute dog “Idéfix” into “Dogmatix,” as the brilliant English rendering does, rather than conveying it merely as “Idefix,” as did the tired Spanish translator I now imagine.3 One does not go unscarred through experiences like this. a host of retrospective re-orderings, retranslations, and recathectings of primal relations can ensue when the ideas one formed in http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

The Indecisive Muse: Ethics in Translation and the Idea of History

Comparative Literature , Volume 60 (4) – Jan 1, 2008

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2008 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-60-4-301
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

1 I wish to acknowledge the generous support of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School Research fund, which made much of the work on this essay possible. a first version of “The Indecisive Muse” was presented in September 2003 at The English Institute, Harvard University. I have profited immensely from conversations about translation in general, and about this essay in particular, with Patricia lópez, who read a draft carefully, intelligently, and most generously. Where no translator is named, the translation is my own. CLJ604-01lezra.indd 301 COMPaRaTIVE lITERaTURE / 302 if not unwilling to render into Spanish the french jeux de mots.2 “Juego de palabras intraducible,” she or he wrote when the going got sticky, closing off to Spanish readers of the books the avenue of the linguistically unfaithful but culturally correlative pun — something on the order of turning the name of Obélix’s minute dog “Idéfix” into “Dogmatix,” as the brilliant English rendering does, rather than conveying it merely as “Idefix,” as did the tired Spanish translator I now imagine.3 One does not go unscarred through experiences like this. a host of retrospective re-orderings, retranslations, and recathectings of primal relations can ensue when the ideas one formed in

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2008

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