Quote of the day

Why Translation Matters

Reading Edith Grossman’s engaging new Why Translation Matters on the plane back from Miami last week led me back to Jose Ortega y Gasset’s essay “The Misery and the Splendor of Translation.” Grossman’s neat summary: Ortega y Gasset calls “translation a utopian enterprise, but, he said, so too is any human undertaking, even the effort to communicate with another human being in the same language.” (Endearing, isn’t it?)

From the essay, translated by Elizabeth Gamble Miller:

To write well is to make continual incursions into grammar, into established usage, and into accepted linguistic norms. It is an act of permanent rebellion against the social environs, a subversion. To write well is to employ a certain radical courage.

Or, as Hilary and I often sign our emails to each other, Resist!

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