Do the beliefs we hold about literature add up to something
consistent and coherent? Or are they little more than random pieties?
Take two crucial notions I heard repeatedly last year. First, that in a
fine work of literature, every word counts, perfection has been
achieved, nothing can be moved—a claim I’ve seen made for writers as
prolix (and diverse) as Victor Hugo and Jonathan Franzen. Second, that
translators are creative artists in their own right, co-authoring the
text they translate, a fine translation being as unique and important as
the original work. Mark Polizzotti makes this claim in Sympathy for the Traitor (2018), but any number of scholars in the field of Translation Studies would agree.
Can these two positions be reconciled?
Read more in the New York Revie of Books, Daily January 21, 2019