This morning I decided I needed to own some Tomas Tranströmer — in whatever way one can imagine such ownership — and began to shop around for translations. I came across this blog post on Robin Robertson‘s versions of Tranströmer. The writer of the blog post speaks to the problem of translating Tranströmer and to the problems of the English versions themselves. It’s a short and quite interesting piece and it made me think of why people write versions in the first place. What does ‘version’ even mean?
Much like deciding what is ‘good’ in a poem, there is hardly ever agreement about what a translation should do. Aside from some very strange and pedantic people, though, I think almost everyone agrees that literalness and blind copying of formal aspects of the original are poor techniques of translation. And if a translation is necessarily going to be more than a transliteration, why use a term like ‘version,’ which seems to imply greater freedom than a translation already does? » Read the rest of this entry «