Page 81 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 34

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STEINBACH / ON THE ART OF TRANSLATION
71
but you must not call it Homer.” When Ezra Pound translated
Sophocles’
Women of Trachis,
he produced an excellent version,
but it was more Pound than it was Sophocles.
Shlonsky's final conclusion that creative writers are sometimes
also creative translators is restricted by two caveats: (a) the
translator must always be invisible, and (b) the translation must
not read like a translation. These will narrow the gap between
the translator and the work being translated, and the reader
will feel it is
revealed
rather than translated.
ERRORS IN TRAN SLA T IO N
Perhaps this is the place to expose a few errors that have been
committed in the process of translation. The story of Cinderella,
so deeply loved by small children, was mistranslated from the
French into English. In the French version Cinderella drops her
fur slipper on the palace stairs. The translator turned
pantoufle
en vair
into
en verre
(glass); and since that time our poor little
Cinderella goes hopping along wearing a glass slipper when she
could be wearing a nice comfortable slipper made of fur.
An even more egregious error in translation involves Michel­
angelo’s superb statue of the biblical Moses, which is now in
the Church of St. Peter in Chains in Rome. When the peerless
Michelangelo—Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet (1475-
1564) —had completed his monumental work, it is reported that
he struck it with his hammer and bade it to speak. He had
chiseled the lips so perfectly that they seemed alive and ready
for speech. But what had prompted the great sculptor to pre­
sent Moses with two horns protruding from his forehead?
The answer lies in his mistranslation (or whoever else trans­
lated it) of the phrase
karan or panav
repeated in verses 29 and
30, Exodus, chapter 34. I t is properly translated “the skin of his
face was radiant,” and it describes Moses’ physiognomy as he
was descending Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of the
Law.
Michelangelo’s mistranslation undoubtedly derived from his
confusing the noun
keren
(meaning an animal’s horn) with the
verb
karan
(meaning to shine, to emit rays, to be radian t).
Hikrin ,
which is the Hiph’il conjugation of
karan,
actually means
“to put forth horns, to have horns.” In
The Soncino Chumash,
edited by Dr. A. Cohen, he adds this note to his translation of