Walter Benjamin on translation

Benjamin-sm

“It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.”

-Walter Benjamin

This is such a perfect and insightful quote about translation. Once I read it, I had to look up Walter Benjamin. His life was full of inspiring work in literature, philosophy, and translation, but it came to a tragic end in 1940.

The final line in the Wikipedia entry reads: “Benjamin committed suicide in Portbou at the French–Spanish border while attempting to escape from the Nazis.” Yet another human life snuffed out by the madness of European history in the 20th century.

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