ALTA45 Panel: Getting Things Wrong, Or: Upon Exactitude in Translation
The age-old question of exactitude in translation (Borges reference intended) begs an examination of what translation truly is. If the original seed of any novel is “a cathedral of fire” (M. Cunningham)—the finished book is a second-best version of that flame. Each subsequent generation (namely, translations) deserves the same forgiveness. And yet translators MUST strive for accuracy; the taboo against noting errors is misguided. First, do no harm—get it right. But to err in translation is to BE a translator. Translation mistakes are DEEPLY interesting, bespeaking distances between worlds, a gulf encompassed in the mirror’s face: fecund entanglements to be celebrated. Like continuity snafus, to catch mistakes is the work of a loving fan—so many Easter eggs in the domain of translation.