The Meridian and the Eastern Front: Contemporaneity and the Ethos of Translation


Untranslatability haunts every literary translation. The rewriting that occurs in working out the particularities between each language recalls, from one inscription to the other, the impossible equivalence that the enduring task of translation seeks to carry out. Aren’t the inherent limits of historical representation, between the manifestation of truth and the evidence-based reconstruction of fact, similar to those related to the problem of translation? What to think, then, of cultural manifestations that use translation as a poetics of remembrance and a way of carrying a past event into the present? This essay argues that translation is more than the communication of meaning or the transmission of information through time, that it displays a powerful way of disclosing a future in the wake of a traumatic experience through an aesthetic ethos. The predicament of sharing a past experience can be accounted for by making a virtue out of the inevitable failure translation entails.

Read Article On Muse