Press "Enter" to skip to content

Why do we need new translations of the classics?

Shakespeare with him hindi to english translation is considered the most translated author in the world. About forty translations of Hamlet alone have been made into Russian. At the same time, the interest in the classics among translators is not uniform. For example, such an ancient classical work as Homer’s Odyssey for a long time had only two translations into Russian: one was made in the 19th century, the other at the beginning of the 20th century. Only recently has another, modern, translation appeared.

As a rule, regardless of the number of available translations, one or more of them are considered textbooks. It is they who are repeatedly reprinted by publishing houses, it is thanks to them that most of us recognize outstanding works of literature. For example, Marshak’s translations of Shakespeare’s sonnets are considered “classical”.

There is a stereotype that textbook translations are perfect, and everything that appears after them is an unsuccessful attempt by individual “upstarts” to surpass the masters. According to this point of view, the new translations are from the evil one. There are, of course, just such translations, the creators of which set themselves the goal of being different from their predecessors in everything, often to the detriment of the content. And yet the emergence of new translations has weighty arguments in favor.

Different approaches to translation

The theory of translation does not stand still, new studies appear, new provisions are put forward. Of course, the paradigm shift in translation studies is also reflected in the practice of literary translation. Translators have a desire to use new approaches, including when working on classical works.

Change of historical eras

Any translator is a child of his time and the society in which he lived. Realities are constantly changing. For example, a translator could use vocabulary that was common in his time, but is already outdated in ours. The environment in which the translator works also affects the content of his work. In Soviet times, for example, a specialist who was not familiar with the realities described in the work could translate a foreign work – travel abroad and communication with foreign colleagues was limited, not all foreign literature was available. And if the translator does not understand well what is being said, then it is difficult for him to convey it in the text. Therefore, either a gag appears in the translation, or an attempt to explain “I don’t know what.” This, of course, does not benefit the translation.

Clarification of the meaning of the work

Translation very much depends on the understanding of the author’s thought – what idea he put in, why he used certain artistic means, etc. Different translators can understand this idea in different ways. At the same time, literary and biographical studies on the life and work of the author are of great help, which either contain a possible interpretation of the idea, or directly point to it (publication of previously unknown drafts, letters, diaries, memoirs, etc.). The translator, who worked in the conditional year 1950, could not have had such information if it appeared later. To date, research and discoveries have increased. In addition, thanks to the possibilities of the Internet, the greater openness of borders between states, it is now easier to get access to world research.

Correction of errors, omissions of previous translations

As a rule, classical translations have undeniable literary merit, but do not always satisfy the principles of equivalent translation. They may contain both individual errors and banknotes (cut out fragments). Sometimes this is a consequence of translational voluntarism (the translator considered certain passages unimportant), sometimes – publishing. In the USSR, such “editing” could be associated with ideological considerations. Of course, such banknotes also move us away from understanding the author’s intention, they can even give it completely different shades.

Demand for the work

The new translation itself, the very fact that the translator refers to the work testifies to the relevance of this work, the interest in its rethinking. If a work is translated, then it definitely lives. Therefore, new translations are rather a boon. Time will still judge which of the translations will be in demand and which will not.