An Imperfect Classic

C. K. Scott MoncrieffThe subject of literature in translation always fascinates me. Remember what Ezra Pound said,

English literature lives on translation, it is fed by translations, every new exuberance, every new heave is stimulated by translations, every allegedly great age is an age of translations, beginning with Geoffrey Chaucer.

I believe this but I also believe my daughter who is a professor at a large university when she insists that you should read literature in the original language: reading a translation is hardly better than not reading. This seems very much in line with an article appearing in The New Yorker by Adam Gopnik. The subject C. K. Scott Moncrieff as exposed in a new biography by Jean Findlay which, of course, also deals with Moncrieff’s greatest triumph, his translation of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust.

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