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comments to AB

Jan 26, 1995 00:32 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Alan Bain,

Thank you for your thoughts on literature.  It seems that we are
on the same wave length.

AB>I wonder how out of date a work has to be in its own language
to need "translation." Chaucer wrote English, but has to be
translated for us to understand him today.

Actually, by the time you get through the prologue, using a
glossary, even Chaucerian English becomes pretty readable.  The
language isn't so different as it appears on the surface.  The
biggest difference is the wild spelling and the change in the
vowel sounds.  But I admit, it is a lot more work than most
people are willing to go through.  Of course, one needs to have a
good feel for the times in order to catch the cultural allusions.
Now, ~Beowulf~--that's a different story! You have to learn a
language for that.

AB>In a similar way HPB and other 19th century authors, while not
in need of translation, may be in need of interpretation in a
number of areas.  Indeed, this is what various commentaries are

AB> But problems! Translation involves interpretation, and
interpretation is affected by the subjectivity of the

Amen.  Perhaps, the best solution for works from another era, is
to add annotations in footnotes to explain the allusions.  That
way there is a clear difference between the original text and the
annotation.  As for translations--you made your point quite well.

AB>All serious work requires study, and all serious study
requires work.  HPB did her best, so far as I am aware, to define
her terms, and so, alas must we.  If not, we may end up talking
at cross-purposes when we actually agree with each other.

Right on!

Jerry Hejka-Ekins

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