The Merits of Translation


James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson:

After wandering about in a kind of pleasing distraction for some time, I got into a corner, with Johnson, Garrick, and Harris.

GARRICK: (to Harris.) ‘Pray, Sir, have you read Potter’s Aeschylus?’

HARRIS. ‘Yes; and think it pretty.’

GARRICK. (to Johnson.) ‘And what think you, Sir, of it?’

JOHNSON. ‘I thought what I read of it verbiage: but upon Mr. Harris’s recommendation, I will read a play. (To Mr. Harris.) Don’t prescribe two.’

Mr. Harris suggested one, I do not remember which.

JOHNSON. ‘We must try its effect as an English poem; that is the way to judge of the merit of a translation. Translations are, in general, for people who cannot read the original.’

I mentioned the vulgar saying, that Pope’s Homer was not a good representation of the original.

JOHNSON. ‘Sir, it is the greatest work of the kind…

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Published by Vincent S Artale Jr

Biblical studies, Health and Nutrition, Biology, Fitness, Hiking, Reading. Re-blogging doesn't equal agreement.

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