Embracing and Encouraging the Act
of Translation as One of Creation





Version v. Translation

__ My favorite debate within the general practice of literary translation is the very specific argument of version v. translation. The question was drawn into prominence (scandalously, I might add) when two of Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer’s translators, Robin Fulton and Robert Robinson, engaged in a public fight. Fulton longs for a stricter fidelity to the original than Robinson provides, while the latter is more given to creative versions, à la Robert Lowell. The truth, though, is that both translators are correct. Every version – whether leaning toward the literal or inclined to free re-envisioning – can serve as a mechanism geared toward better understanding and appreciating the original. Or, the translation (or version) can itself be an original. Intent, or, the translator’s purpose, once again, becomes the central question.