the ethos of translation I

The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe Le Corbeau traduit par Charles Baudelaire Le Corbeau traduit par Stéphane Mallarmé

1 Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —
    Only this, and nothing more.”
    Une fois, sur le minuit lugubre, pendant que je méditais, faible et fatigué, sur maint précieux et curieux volume d’une doctrine oubliée, pendant que je donnais de la tête, presque assoupi, soudain il se fit un tapotement, comme de quelqu’un frappant doucement, frappant à la porte de ma chambre. « C’est quelque visiteur, — murmurai-je, — qui frappe à la porte de ma chambre ; ce n’est que cela et rien de plus. »     Une fois, par un minuit lugubre, tandis que je m’appesantissais, faible et fatigué, sur maint curieux et bizarre volume de savoir oublié, — tandis que je dodelinais la tête, somnolant presque, soudain se fit un heurt, comme de quelqu’un frappant doucement, frappant à la porte de ma chambre, — cela seul et rien de plus.

Continue reading the ethos of translation I

des esseintes

    Afin de jouir d’une oeuvre qui joignît, suivant ses voeux, à un style incisif, une analyse pénétrante et féline, il lui fallait arriver au maître de l’Induction, à ce profond et étrange Edgar Poe, pour lequel, depuis le temps qu’il le relisait sa dilection n’avait pu déchoir.     To enjoy a literary work that adjoined, according to his wishes, to an incisive style, a penetrating and feline analysis, he had to get to the master of Induction, that profound and strange Edgar Poe, for whom, since the moment when he started re-reading him, his devotion could not have declined.


Continue reading des esseintes

5. beau geste

RADICALISME. D’autant plus dangereux qu’il est latent.
RADICALISM. All the more dangerous when it is latent.

— Gustave Flaubert, Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues[0]


Complementing his treatment of mimesis, Erich Auerbach’s 1944 essay “Figura” lays down a classic account of figurative meaning. According to Auerbach, “figura is something real and historical which announces something else which is also real and historical. The relation between the two events is revealed by an accord or similarity.” Thus figurae connect persons and events as symbolic links in a providentially understood historical sequence. Thus the world recounted in the Bible remains imperfectly revealed. Every pivotal historical moment therein is understandable as a figura perpetually pregnant with meaning, yet always resistant to maieutic, the Socratic midwifery that might deliver full figuration a later historical moment. Within such moments history itself, with all its concrete force, remains forever a figure, cloaked, forever inviting and forever requiring the final disclosure, the final demystification, yearned for by the author of the Book of Revelation. As such, figurae are identifiable only in retrospect, when a type, or promise adumbrated or constituted by an earlier event or person is fulfilled or realized by its anti-type, a later event or person. Accordingly, in order to approach an understanding of the figurative meaning of the bad glazier and his bohemian tormentor, we must achieve two tasks. The first is to provide a retrospective account for these characters as realizing a prior historical promise that inheres in the locus classicus. The second is to define their fulfillment by the ensuing turn of historical events that comprises their locus modernus.[1]
Continue reading 5. beau geste