🔥🔥🔥 Meaninglessness In Trifles
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The acts of recovery and revision that constitute this argument rest on extensive archival research, bringing to light forgotten or neglected translations and establishing an alternative tradition that somewhat overlaps with, but mostly differs from, the current canon of British and American literature. This book is motivated by a strong impulse to document the history of English-language translation, to uncover long-obscure translators and translations, to reconstruct their publication and reception, and to articulate significant controversies. The documentary impulse, however, serves the skepticism of symptomatic readings that interrogate the process of domestication in translated texts, both canonical and marginal, and reassess their usefulness in contemporary Anglo-American culture.
The historical narratives in each chapter, grounded as they are on a diagnosis of current translation theory and practice, address key questions. What domestic values has transparent discourse at once inscribed and masked in foreign texts during its long domination? How has transparency shaped the canon of foreign literatures in English and the cultural identities of English- language nations? Why has transparency prevailed over other translation strategies in English, like Victorian archaism Francis Newman, William Morris and modernist experiments with heterogeneous discourses Pound, Celia and Louis Zukofsky, Paul Blackburn?
Would this effort establish more democratic cultural exchanges? Would it change domestic values? Or would it mean banishment to the fringes of Anglo- American culture? This emphasis is not due to the fact that literary translators today are any more invisible or exploited than their technical counterparts, who, whether freelance or employed by translation agencies, are not permitted to sign or copyright their work, let alone receive royalties Fischbach Rather, literary translation is emphasized because it has long set the standard applied in technical translation viz. As Schleiermacher realized long ago, the choice of whether to domesticate or foreignize a foreign text has been allowed only to translators of literary texts, not to translators of technical materials.
Technical translation is fundamentally constrained by the exigencies of communication: during the postwar period, it has supported scientific research, geopolitical negotiation, and economic exchange, especially as multinational corporations seek to expand foreign markets and thus increasingly require fluent, immediately intelligible translations of international treaties, legal contracts, technical information, and instruction manuals Levy F5. The ultimate aim of the book is to force translators and their readers to reflect on the ethnocentric violence of translation and hence to write and read translated texts in ways that seek to recognize the linguistic and cultural difference of foreign texts.
The point is rather to elaborate the theoretical, critical, and textual means by which translation can be studied and practiced as a locus of difference, instead of the homogeneity that widely characterizes it today. Earl of Roscommon Fluency emerges in English-language translation during the early modern period, a feature of aristocratic literary culture in seventeenth-century England, and over the next two hundred years it is valued for diverse reasons, cultural and social, in accordance with the vicissitudes of the hegemonic classes.
At the same time, the illusion of transparency produced in fluent translation enacts a thoroughgoing domestication that masks the manifold conditions of the translated text, its exclusionary impact on foreign cultural values, but also on those at home, eliminating translation strategies that resist transparent discourse, closing off any thinking about cultural and social alternatives that do not favor English social elites.
The dominance of fluency in English- language translation until today has led to the forgetting of these conditions and exclusions, requiring their recovery to intervene against the contemporary phase of this dominance. The following genealogy aims to trace the rise of fluency as a canon of English- language translation, showing how it achieved canonical status, interrogating its exclusionary effects on the canon of foreign literatures in English, and reconsidering the cultural and social values that it excludes at home. Written in the year, The title page is one among many remarkable things about this book: it omits any sign of authorship in favor of a bold reference to the gap between the dates of composition and publication.
Perhaps the omission of his name should also be taken as an effort to conceal his identity, a precaution taken by royalist writers who intended their work to be critical of the Commonwealth Potter — The aristocratic affiliation would have also been perceived by contemporary readers, from various classes and with differing political tendencies. Written chiefly for the good of schooles, to be used according to the directions in the Preface to the painfull Schoolemaster. A freer translation method was advocated with greater frequency from the s onward, especially in aristocratic and court circles. Those I must tell, I haue in this translation, rather sought his Spirit, then Numbers; yet the Musique of Verse not neglected neither.
In the political debates during the Interregnum, a Trojan genealogy could be used to justify both representative government and absolute monarchy. A Warre to shake off Slavery, and recover publick Liberty. But, like many of his contemporaries, he was apt to mask these material conditions with providentialist claims and appeals to natural law that underwrite a notion of racial superiority. And in line with the recurrent Trojan genealogies of English kings, his choice of an excerpt he entitled The Destruction of Troy allowed him to suggest, more directly, the defeat of the Caroline government and his support for monarchy in England.
The topical resonance of his version becomes strikingly evident when it is juxtaposed to the Latin text and previous English versions. Book II had already been done in several complete translations of the Aeneid, and it had been singled out twice by previous translators, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and Sir Thomas Wroth. Yet both of them had rendered the entire book some eight hundred lines of Latin text. Mynors ll. Denham ll. Denham had himself contributed to this trend with The Sophy , a play intended for court production and set in Persia. But the allusiveness of the translation is more specific. In the political climate of the s, with the Protectorate resorting to oppressive measures to quell royalist insurgency, it would be difficult for a Caroline sympathizer not to see any parallel between the decapitations of Priam and Charles.
But in this climate it would also be necessary for a royalist writer like Denham to use such an oblique mode of reference as an allusion in an anonymous translation. When he had seen his palace all on flame, With the ruine of his Troyan turrets eke, That royal prince of Asie, which of late Reignd over so many peoples and realmes, Like a great stock now lieth on the shore: His hed and shoulders parted ben in twaine: A body now without renome, and fame.
Howard ciiv See here King Priams end of all the troubles he had knowne, Behold the period of his days, which fortune did impone. Ogilby , 5 Denham clearly exceeds his predecessors in the liberties he takes with the Latin text. By choosing this book, he situated himself in a line of aristocratic translators that stretched back to Surrey, a courtly amateur whose literary activity was instrumental in developing the elite court cultures of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs. His aim was not only to reformulate the free method practiced in Caroline aristocratic culture at its height, during the s and s, but to devise a discursive strategy for translation that would reestablish the cultural dominance of this class: this strategy can be called fluency.
A free translation of poetry requires the cultivation of a fluent strategy in which linear syntax, univocal meaning, and varied meter produce an illusionistic effect of transparency: the translation seems as if it were not in fact a translation, but a text originally written in English. Book II is clearly a rough draft: not only does it omit large portions of the Latin text, but some passages do not give full renderings, omitting individual Latin words. There is also a tendency to follow the Latin word order, in some cases quite closely. But why do I these thankless truths pursue; ll. Yet Denham made available, not so much Virgil, as a translation that signified a peculiarly English meaning, and the revisions provide further evidence for this domestication.
The assumption is that meaning is a timeless and universal essence, easily transmittable between languages and cultures regardless of the change of signifiers, the construction of a different semantic context out of different cultural discourses, the inscription of target-language codes and values in every interpretation of the foreign text. But none was sufficiently aware of the domestication enacted by fluent translation to demystify the effect of transparency, to suspect that the translated text is irredeemably partial in its interpretation. Dryden also followed Denham, most importantly, in seeing the couplet as an appropriate vehicle for transparent discourse. The ascendancy of the heroic couplet from the late seventeenth century on has frequently been explained in political terms, wherein the couplet is viewed as a cultural form whose marked sense of antithesis and closure reflects a political conservatism, support for the restored monarchy and for aristocratic domination— despite the continuing class divisions that had erupted in civil wars and fragmented the aristocracy into factions, some more accepting of bourgeois social practices than others.
An Essay on Criticism, 68— contained a rich alluvial deposit of aspirations and meanings largely hidden from view. Grove 8 The fact that for us today no form better than the couplet epitomizes the artificial use of language bears witness, not just to how deeply transparency was engrained in aristocratic literary culture, but also to how much it could conceal. Waller, and Mr. Dryden ll. The triumph of the heroic couplet in late seventeenth-century poetic discourse depends to some extent on the triumph of a neoclassical translation method in aristocratic literary culture, a method whose greatest triumph is perhaps the discursive sleight of hand that masks the political interests it serves.
It was allied to different social tendencies and made to support varying cultural and political functions. Pope described the privileged discourse in his preface: It only remains to speak of the Versification. Homer as has been said is perpetually applying the Sound to the Sense, and varying it on every new Subject. This is indeed one of the most exquisite Beauties of Poetry, and attainable by very few: I know only of Homer eminent for it in the Greek, and Virgil in Latine. I am sensible it is what may sometimes happen by Chance, when a Writer is warm, and fully possest of his Image: however it may be reasonably believed they designed this, in whose Verse it so manifestly appears in a superior degree to all others.
Few Readers have the Ear to be Judges of it, but those who have will see I have endeavoured at this Beauty. During this crucial moment in its cultural rise, domesticating translation was sometimes taken to extremes that look at once oddly comical and rather familiar in their logic, practices a translator might use today in the continuing dominion of fluency. It is important not to view such instances of domestication as simply inaccurate translations. Canons of accuracy and fidelity are always locally defined, specific to different cultural formations at different historical moments.
Both Denham and Dryden recognized that a ratio of loss and gain inevitably occurs in the translation process and situates the translation in an equivocal relationship to the foreign text, never quite faithful, always somewhat free, never establishing an identity, always a lack and a supplement. Yet they also viewed their domesticating method as the most effective way to control this equivocal relationship and produce versions adequate to the Latin text. As a result, they castigated methods that either rigorously adhered to source- language textual features or played fast and loose with them in ways that they were unwilling to license, that insufficiently adhered to the canon of fluency in translation. The ethnocentric violence performed by domesticating translation rested on a double fidelity, to the source-language text as well as to the target- language culture, and especially to its valorization of transparent discourse.
But this was clearly impossible and knowingly duplicitous, accompanied by the rationale that a gain in domestic intelligibility and cultural force outweighed the loss suffered by the foreign text and culture. His decisive consolidation of earlier statements, French as well as English, constituted a theoretical refinement, visible in the precision of his distinctions and in the philosophical sophistication of his assumptions: domestication is now recommended on the basis of a general human nature that is repeatedly contradicted by an aesthetic individualism.
For Tytler, the aim of translation is the production of an equivalent effect that transcends linguistic and cultural differences: I would therefore describe a good translation to be, That, in which the merit of the original work is so completely transfused into another language, as to be as distinctly apprehended, and as strongly felt, by a native of the country to which that language belongs, as it is by those who speak the language of the original work. But, as it is not to be denied, that in many of the examples adduced in this Essay, the appeal lies not so much to any settled canons of criticism, as to individual taste; it will not be surprising, if in such instances, a diversity of opinion should take place: and the Author having exercised with great freedom his own judgment in such points, it would ill become him to blame others for using the same freedom in dissenting from his opinions.
The chief benefit to be derived from all such discussions in matters of taste, does not so much arise from any certainty we can obtain of the rectitude of our critical decisions, as from the pleasing and useful exercise which they give to the finest powers of the mind, and those which most distinguish us from the inferior animals. But the translator must also conceal the figural status of the translation, indeed confuse the domesticated figure with the foreign writer. As Peter Stallybrass and Allon White have shown, within the symbolic discourse of the bourgeoisie, illness, disease, poverty, sexuality, blasphemy and the lower classes were inextricably connected.
The control of the boundaries of the body in breathing, eating, defecating secured an identity which was constantly played out in terms of class difference. At other points, the process of domestication is explicitly class-coded, with the translator advised to inscribe the foreign text with elite literary discourses while excluding discourses that circulate among an urban proletariat: If we are thus justly offended at hearing Virgil speak in the style of the Evening Post or the Daily Advertiser, what must we think of the translator, who makes the solemn and sententious Tacitus express himself in the low cant of the streets, or in the dialect of the waiters of a tavern? In each case, however, this apparently simple gesture of social superiority and disdain could not be effectively accomplished without revealing the very labour of suppression and sublimation involved.
Stallybrass and White — Translation threatens the transcendental author because it submits his text to the infiltration of other discourses that are not bourgeois, individualistic, transparent. On the contrary, the question was the specific nature of the domestication, with both offering reasons firmly grounded in domestic translation agendas. This, it must be acknowledged, is the most essential of all. The third and last thing is, to take care, that the version have at least, so far the quality of an original performance, as to appear natural and easy, such as shall give no handle to the critic to charge the translator with applying words improperly, or in a meaning not warranted by use, or combining them in a way which renders the sense obscure, and the construction ungrammatical, or even harsh.
Campbell — To recommend transparency as the most suitable discourse for the Gospels was indeed to canonize fluent translation. Campbell — Like Tytler, however, Campbell also assumed the existence of a public sphere governed by universal reason. Campbell too was a translator with a sense of authorship—at once Christian and individualistic—that could be ruffled by other translations and translation discourses, provoking him to reactions that ran counter to his humanist assumptions. By the turn of the nineteenth century, a translation method of eliding the linguistic and cultural difference of the foreign text was firmly entrenched as a canon in English-language translation, always linked to a valorization of transparent discourse.
Once again, the domestication enacted by a fluent strategy was not seen as producing an inaccurate translation. Faithful, as well in rendering correctly the meaning of the original, as in exhibiting the general spirit which pervades it: unconstrained, so as not to betray by its phraseology, by the collocation of its words, or construction of its sentences that it is only a copy.
The translator must, if he is capable of executing his task upon a philosophic principle, endeavour to resolve the personal and local allusions into the genera, of which the local or personal variety employed by the original author, is merely the accidental type; and to reproduce them in one of those permanent forms which are connected with the universal and immutable habits of mankind. A translator could choose the now traditional domesticating method, an ethnocentric reduction of the foreign text to dominant cultural values in English; or a translator could choose a foreignizing method, an ethnodeviant pressure on those values to register the linguistic and cultural differences of the foreign text.
John Nott and the Honourable George Lamb Before these translations appeared, Catullus had long occupied a foothold in the canon of classical literature in English. Editions of the Latin text were available on the Continent after the fifteenth century, and even though two more centuries passed before it was published in England, Catullus had already been imitated by a wide range of English poets—Thomas Campion, Ben Jonson, Edmund Waller, Robert Herrick, among many others McPeek ; Wiseman chap. There were few translations, usually of the same small group of kiss and sparrow poems, showing quite clearly that he was virtually neglected by English translators in favor of Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Horace: these were the major figures, translated in the service of diverse aesthetic, moral, and political interests.
The cultural and social factors that made this revision possible included, not any relaxation of bourgeois moral norms, but the canonization of transparency in English poetry and poetry translation. But to many of his effusions, distinguished both by fancy and feeling, this praise is justly due. Some of his pieces, which breathe the higher enthusiasm of the art, and are coloured with a singular picturesqueness of imagery, increase our regret at the manifest mutilation of his works. His feeling is weak, but always true. The final verdict, however, was that it is quite impossible to read his verses without regretting that he happened to be an idler, a man of fashion, and a debauchee. The most remarkable difference between the translators occurred on the question of morality: Nott sought to reproduce the pagan sexuality and physically coarse language of the Latin text, whereas Lamb minimized or just omitted them.
His main concern seems to have been twofold: to ward against an ethnocentric response to the Latin text and preserve its historical and cultural difference: When an ancient classic is translated, and explained, the work may be considered as forming a link in the chain of history: history should not be falsified, we ought therefore to translate him fairly; and when he gives us the manners of his own day, however disgusting to our sensations, and repugnant to our natures they may sometimes prove, we must not endeavour to conceal, or gloss them over, through a fastidious regard to delicacy. In , this mimetic assumption was beginning to seem dated in English poetic theory, a throwback to an older empiricism, challenged now by expressive theories of poetry and original genius.
Nott worked under the same cultural regime, but he rather chose to resist those values in the name of preserving the difference of the Latin text. Nott foreignized Catullus, although foreignization does not mean that he somehow transcended his own historical moment to reproduce the foreign, unmediated by the domestic. Nott translated texts that referred to adulterous affairs and homosexual relationships, as well as texts that contained descriptions of sexual acts, especially anal and oral intercourse. Lamb either omitted or bowdlerized them, preferring more refined expressions of hetero-sexual love that glanced fleetingly at sexual activity.
Not a soul but the fathers mean rapines must tell; And thou, son, canst no longer thy hairy breech sell. The twelve-syllable line, a departure from the pentameter standard, is metrically irregular and rather cumbersome, handled effectively only in the second couplet. And the syntax is elliptical, inverted, or convoluted in fully half of the lines. Aurelius, Furius! The sacred bard, to Muses dear, Himself should pass a chaste career.
This assertion of the purity of character which a loose poet should and may preserve has been brought forward both by Ovid, Martial, and Ausonius, in their own defence. Suns that set again may rise; We, when once our fleeting light, Once our day in darkness dies, Sleep in one eternal night. But, with thousands when we burn, Mix, confuse the sums at last, That we may not blushing learn All that have between us past.
This is in fact the reading that emerges in a survey of contemporary responses to the translations. This portion of his task Mr. Lamb has executed with considerable judgment, and we need not fear that our delicacy may be wounded in perusing the pages of his translation. Monthly Magazine The reactionary Anti-Jacobin Review enlisted Lamb in its struggle against the opponents of church, state, and nation: The extreme impropriety of many Poems written by Catullus, has obliged Mr.
Lamb to omit them, and had he turned his attention wholly to some purer author, it would have honoured his powers of selection. At this hour of contest between the good and evil principle among us, when so many are professedly Atheists, and blasphemy is encouraged by subscription, and sedition supported by charities, no patriot and christian would assist vice by palliating its excesses, or render them less offensive by a decent veil.
Lamb is entitled to both the above characters of patriot and christian. The bulk of his work, however, was translation, and over a thirty-year period he produced book-length translations of Johannes Secundus Nicolaius , Petrarch , Propertius , Hafiz , Bonefonius , Lucretius , and Horace He was so prolific because he felt that more was at stake in translating than literary appreciation, even though aesthetic values always guided his choices as well. The mimetic concept of translation that made him choose a foreignizing method to preserve the difference of the foreign text also made him think of his work as an act of cultural restoration. This was the rationale he often gave in his prefatory statements. For Nott, translation performed the work of cultural restoration by revising the canon of foreign literature in English, supporting the admission of some marginalized texts and occasionally questioning the canonicity of others.
In his preface to his selection from the Persian poet Hafiz, Nott boldly challenged the English veneration of classical antiquity by suggesting that western European culture originated in the east: we lament, whilst years are bestowed in acquiring an insight into the Greek and Roman authors, that those very writers should have been neglected, from whom the Greeks evidently derived both the richness of their mythology, and the peculiar tenderness of their expressions. This was necessary, whether to distribute justice, or to exercise compassion. But private avarice and extortion shut up the gates of public virtue. After studying medicine in Paris as well as London, he spent years on the Continent as physician to English travellers —, —, — and made a trip to China as surgeon on a vessel of the East India Company — The class in which Nott travelled must also be included among the conditions of his cultural work: the aristocracy.
This class affiliation is important because it indicates a domestic motive for his interest in foreignizing translation. A confirmed bachelor himself, he served as physician to Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, when she travelled on the Continent between and Posonby ; DNB. The fashionable, trend-setting Duchess had been banished abroad by her husband William, the fifth Duke, because gambling losses had driven her deep into debt. In , the Duchess gave birth to a daughter who was assumed to be the offspring of her adultery with Charles Grey, an aggressive young politician who led the Whig party and later became Prime Minister.
The Duke himself fathered three illegitimate children, one by a woman with whom he had an affair at the time of his marriage, two by Lady Elizabeth Foster, who separated from her own husband in and was befriended by the Duke and Duchess. George Lamb — was born into the same aristocratic milieu as Nott, but thirty years later. In , George married Caroline St. Everyone concerned knew of these relations. The knowledge of these relations extended past the family. Still, everything was treated very discreetly. George himself seems to have been happily married. Wilt thou dine with me, Apemantus? No; I eat not lords. O they eat lords; so they come by great bellies. Shakespeare I. Lamb saw no contradiction between professing liberalism as a Whig politician and censoring canonical literary texts.
Now, have I heart to see the flames devour The work of many a pleasurable hour? Lamb I, ix—x Lamb was one of those future aristocrats for whom Sir John Denham developed the domesticating method of translating classical poetry, shrinking from the prospect of publication because poetry translation was not the serious work of politics or government service. Fluent, domesticating translation was valorized in accordance with bourgeois moral and literary values, and a notable effort of resistance through a foreignizing method was decisively displaced. Nott and Lamb exemplify the two options available to translators at a specific moment in the canonization of fluency.
Perhaps most importantly, they show that in foreignizing translation, the difference of the foreign text can only ever be figured by domestic values that differ from those in dominance. Chapter 3 Nation The translator who attaches himself closely to his original more or less abandons the originality of his nation, and so a third comes into existence, and the taste of the multitude must first be shaped towards it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe trans. At the turn of the nineteenth century, foreignizing translation lacked cultural capital in English, but it was very active in the formation of another national culture—German. And yet, surprisingly, Schleiermacher proposed this nationalist agenda by theorizing translation as the locus of cultural difference, not the homogeneity that his ideological configuration might imply, and that, in various, historically specific forms, has long prevailed in English-language translation, British and American. The central contradiction of vernacular nationalist movements is that they are at once made possible and vulnerable by language.
Language forms the particular solidarity that is the basis of the nation, but the openness of any language to new uses allows nationalist narratives to be rewritten—especially when this language is the target of translations that are foreignizing, most interested in the cultural difference of the foreign text. If, as Schleiermacher believed, a foreignizing translation method can be useful in building a national culture, forging a foreign-based cultural identity for a linguistic community about to achieve political autonomy, it can also undermine any concept of nation by challenging cultural canons, disciplinary boundaries, and national values in the target language.
The following genealogy reconstructs a foreignizing translation tradition, partly German, partly English, examines the specific cultural situations in which this tradition took shape, and evaluates its usefulness in combating domesticating translation in the present. And this makes communication the criterion by which methodological choices are validated and authentic translation distinguished from inauthentic.
Lefevere The translator aims to preserve the linguistic and cultural difference of the foreign text, but only as it is perceived in the translation by a limited readership, an educated elite. Interestingly, to imitate the German this closely is not to be more faithful to it, but to be more English, that is, consistent with an English syntactical inversion that is now archaic. He was keenly aware that translation strategies are situated in specific cultural formations where discourses are canonized or marginalized, circulating in relations of domination and exclusion.
Here it becomes clear that Schleiermacher was enlisting his privileged translation method in a cultural political agenda: an educated elite controls the formation of a national culture by refining its language through foreignizing translations. As Albert Ward observes of this period, literature was […] a predominantly bourgeois art, but it was only a small part of this section of the community that responded most readily to the classical writers of the great age of German literature.
Our friend, who looked for the middle way in this, too, tried to reconcile both, but as a man of feeling and taste he preferred the first maxim when in doubt. This audience was reading translations as well, but the greatest percentage consisted of translations from French and English novels, including the work of Choderlos de Laclos and Richardson. I find this a good thing. It is to be deplored that the great preference for England which dominated a part of the family could not have taken the direction of familiarizing him from childhood on with the English language, whose last golden age was then in bloom, and which is so much closer to German. But we may hope that he would have preferred to produce literature and philosophy in Latin, rather than in French, if he had enjoyed a strict scholarly education.
As Jerry Dawson makes clear, the war between France and Prussia in , with the resulting collapse of the Prussian armies and the humiliating peace terms dictated to Prussia by Napoleon, proved to be the final factor needed to turn [Schleiermacher] to nationalism with a complete and almost reckless abandon. The Prussian defeat caused Schleiermacher to lose his appointment at the University of Halle, and he fled to Berlin, the Prussian capital, where he lectured at the university and preached at various churches. Sheehan This vision of Germany as a union of relatively autonomous principalities was partly a compensation for the then prevailing international conflict, and it is somewhat backward-looking, traced with a nostalgia for the domestic political organization that prevailed before the French occupation.
Schleiermacher himself was a member of a bourgeois cultural elite, but his nationalist ideology is such that it admits aristocracy, monarchy, even an imperialist tendency—but only when they constitute a national unity resistant to foreign domination. His theory of foreignizing translation should be seen as anti-French because it opposes the translation method that dominated France since neoclassicism, viz. Who would want to contend that nothing has ever been translated into French from the classical languages or from the Germanic languages!
But even though we Germans are perfectly willing to listen to this advice, we should not follow it. In a satiric dialogue from , A. Schlegel had already made explicit the nationalist ideology at work in identifying French culture with a domesticating translation method: Frenchman: The Germans translate every literary Tom, Dick, and Harry. We either do not translate at all, or else we translate according to our own taste.
German: Which is to say, you paraphrase and you disguise. Frenchman: We look on a foreign author as a stranger in our company, who has to dress and behave according to our customs, if he desires to please. German: How narrow-minded of you to be pleased only by what is native. Frenchman: Such is our nature and our education. Did the Greeks not hellenize everything as well? German: In your case it goes back to a narrow-minded nature and a conventional education. In ours education is our nature. Here nationalism is equivalent to universalism: An inner necessity, in which a peculiar calling of our people expresses itself clearly enough, has driven us to translating en masse; we cannot go back and we must go on.
This appears indeed to be the real historical aim of translation in general, as we are used to it now. Lefevere Thus, readers of the canon of world literature would experience the linguistic and cultural difference of foreign texts, but only as a difference that is Eurocentric, mediated by a German bourgeois elite. Ultimately, it would seem that foreignizing translation does not so much introduce the foreign into German culture as use the foreign to confirm and develop a sameness, a process of fashioning an ideal cultural self on the basis of an other, a cultural narcissism, which is endowed, moreover, with historical necessity.
This assumes, contrary to the lecture, that German culture has already attained a significant level of development, presumably in classical and romantic literature, which must be protected from foreign contamination and imposed universally, through a specifically German foreignization of world literature. It also does not recognize antinomies in its thinking about language and human subjectivity which are likewise determined by a bourgeois nationalism. Schleiermacher evinces an extraordinarily clear sense of the constitutive properties of language, those that make representation always an appropriative activity, never transparent or merely adequate to its object, active in the construction of subjectivity by establishing forms for consciousness.
We understand the spoken word as a product of language and as an expression of its spirit only when we feel that only a Greek, for instance, could think and speak in that way, that only this particular language could operate in a human mind this way, and when we feel at the same time that only this man could think and speak in the Greek fashion in this way, that only he could seize and shape the language in this manner, that only his living possession of the riches of language reveals itself like this, an alert sense for measure and euphony which belongs to him alone, a power of thinking and shaping which is peculiarly his.
The passage is a reminder that Schleiermacher is setting up the understanding of language associated with a particular national cultural elite as the standard by which language use is made intelligible and judged. There is another kind of thinking in his lecture that runs counter to this idealist strain, even if impossibly caught in its tangles: a recognition of the cultural and social conditions of language and a projection of a translation practice that takes them into account instead of working to conceal them. Schleiermacher sees translation as an everyday fact of life, not merely an activity performed on literary and philosophical texts, but necessary for intersubjective understanding, active in the very process of communication, because language is determined by various differences—cultural, social, historical: For not only are the dialects spoken by different tribes belonging to the same nation, and the different stages of the same language or dialect in different centuries, different languages in the strict sense of the word; moreover even contemporaries who are not separated by dialects, but merely belong to different classes, which are not often linked through social intercourse and are far apart in education, often can understand each other only by means of a similar mediation.
For in what other way—except precisely by means of these influences—would it have developed and grown from its first raw state to its more perfect elaboration in scholarship and art? In this sense, therefore, it is the living power of the individual which creates new forms by means of the plastic material of language, at first only for the immediate purpose of communicating a passing consciousness; yet now more, now less of it remains behind in the language, is taken up by others, and reaches out, a shaping force.
Lefevere This passage reverses its logic. The discursive innovations and deviations introduced by foreignizing translation are thus a potential threat to target-language cultural values, but they perform their revisionary work only from within, developing translation strategies from the diverse discourses that circulate in the target language.
The foreign in foreignizing translation then meant a specific selection of foreign texts literary, philosophical, scholarly and a development of discursive peculiarities that opposed both French cultural hegemony, especially among the aristocracy, and the literary discourses favored by the largest segment of readers, both middle- and working-class. It is this ideological ensemble that must be jettisoned in any revival of foreignizing translation to intervene against the contemporary ascendancy of transparent discourse. Today, transparency is the dominant discourse in poetry and prose, fiction and nonfiction, bestsellers and print journalism. Even if the electronic media have weakened the economic, political, and cultural hegemony of print in the post-World War II period, the idealist concept of literature that underwrites that discourse continues to enjoys considerable institutional power, housed not only in the academy and in the literary cultures of various educated elites, but in the publishing industry and the mass-audience periodical press.
Transparent discourse is eminently consumable in the contemporary cultural marketplace, which in turn influences publishing decisions to exclude foreign texts that preempt transparency. Schleiermacher shows that the first opportunity to foreignize translation occurs in the choice of foreign text, wherein the translator can resist the dominant discourse in Anglo-American culture by restoring excluded texts and possibly reforming the canon of foreign literatures in English.
Schleiermacher also suggests that foreignizing translation puts to work a specific discursive strategy. With rare exceptions, English-language theorists and practitioners of English-language translation have neglected Schleiermacher. Because this method is so entrenched in English-language translation, Lefevere is unable to see that the detection of unidiomatic language, especially in literary texts, is culturally specific: what is unidiomatic in one cultural formation can be aesthetically effective in another. Any dismissive treatment of Schleiermacher maintains the forms of domestication in English- language translation today, hindering reflection on how different methods of translating can resist the questionable values that dominate Anglo-American culture.
Schleiermacher can indeed offer a way out. A translator could of course formulate a theory of foreignizing translation, whether or not inspired by the German tradition, but the theory would be a response to a peculiarly English situation, motivated by different cultural and political interests. Such was the case with Francis Newman — , the accomplished brother of the Cardinal. A classical scholar who taught for many years, first at Manchester New College, then University College, London, Newman was a prolific writer on a variety of topics, some scholarly, others religious, many of urgent social concern. He produced commentaries on classical texts Aeschylus, Euripides and dictionaries and vocabularies for oriental languages and dialects Arabic, Libyan.
He wrote a spiritual autobiography and many religious treatises that reflected his own wavering belief in Christianity and the heterodox nature of that belief e. And he issued a steady stream of lectures, essays, and pamphlets that demonstrated his intense involvement in a wide range of political issues. He criticized English colonialism, recommending government reforms that would allow the colonized to enter the political process. His Essays on Diet advocated vegetarianism, and on several occasions he supported state enforcement of sobriety, partly as a means of curbing prostitution.
Compared to Schleiermacher, Newman enlisted translation in a more democratic cultural politics, assigned a pedagogical function but pitched deliberately against an academic elite. It rescues the patriot from the temptation of being unjust to the foreigner, by proving that that does not conduce to the welfare of his own people. In his Introductory Lecture to the Classical Course at Manchester New College, he asserted that we do not advocate any thing exclusive. A one-sided cultivation may appear at first like carrying out the principle of division of labour, yet in fact it does not tend even to the general benefit and progress of truth, much less to the advantage of the individual. Of course a necessary inference from such a dogma is, that whatever has a foreign colour is undesirable and is even a grave defect.
The translator, it seems, must carefully obliterate all that is characteristic of the original, unless it happens to be identical in spirit to something already familiar in English. From such a notion I cannot too strongly express my intense dissent. I am at precisely the opposite;—to retain every peculiarity of the original, so far as I am able, with the greater care, the more foreign it may happen to be,—whether it be a matter of taste, of intellect, or of morals. Every expression which does not stand the logical test, however transparent the meaning, however justified by analogies, is apt to be condemned; and every difference of mind and mind, showing itself in the style, is deprecated. In the preface to his Iliad, Newman defined more precisely the sort of archaism Homer required.
Thus, he saw nothing inconsistent in faulting the modernizing tendencies of previous Horace translators while he himself expurgated the Latin text, inscribing it with an English sense of moral propriety. It exhibits, no doubt, mournful facts concerning the relations of the sexes in Augustan Rome,—facts not in themselves so shocking, as many which oppress the heart in the cities of Christendom; and this, I think, it is instructive to perceive.
Only in a few instances, where the immorality is too ugly to be instructive have I abruptly cut away the difficulty. In general, Horace aimed at a higher beauty than did Catullus or Propertius or Ovid, and the result of a purer taste is closely akin to that of a sounder morality. This too was homegrown, a rich stew drawn from various periods of English, but it deviated from current usage and cut across various literary discourses, poetry and the novel, elite and popular, English and Scottish. Yet it was also used later as a distinctly poetic form, a poeticism, in widely read Victorian writers like Tennyson and Dickens.
The glossary was a scholarly gesture that indicated the sheer heterogeneity of his lexicon, its diverse literary origins, and his readers no doubt found it useful when they took up other books, in various genres, periods, dialects. But what would Horace say, if he could come to life, and find himself singing the two stanzas subjoined? In calling for a rhymed version, they inscribed the unrhymed Latin text with the verse form that dominated current English poetry while insisting that rhyme made the translation closer to Horace.
Yet the very heterogeneity of his translations, their borrowings from various literary discourses, gave the lie to this assumption by pointing to the equally heterogeneous nature of the audience. The cultural force of his challenge can be gauged from the reception of his Iliad. And this choice embroiled him in a midcentury controversy over the prosody of Homeric translations, played out both in numerous reviews and essays and in a spate of English versions with the most different verse forms: rhymed and unrhymed, ballad meter and Spenserian stanza, hendecasyllabics and hexameters.
Here too the stakes were at once cultural—competing readings of the Greek texts—and political— competing concepts of the English nation. In modern prose the Latinists have prevailed; but in a poetry which aims to be antiquated and popular, I must rebel. It drew on an analogous Greek form affiliated with a nationalist movement to win political autonomy from foreign domination or, more precisely, a criminal fringe of this movement, the Klepht resistance. And it assumed an English culture that was national yet characterized by social divisions, in which cultural values were ranged hierarchically among various groups, academic and nonacademic.
This is an antiquarianism that canonized the Greek past while approaching the English present with a physical squeamishness. I think, even, that in our country a powerful misdirection of this kind is often more likely to subjugate and pervert opinion than to be checked and corrected by it. Translation bridges this division, but only by eliminating the nonscholarly.
For he is to be noble; and no plea of wishing to be plain and natural can get him excused from being this. Any translation was likely to be offensive to Arnold, given his scholarly adulation of the Greek text. Rossignol, or Mr. Bright M. Yet because Homeric nobleness depended on the individual personality of the writer or reader and could only be experienced, not described, it was autocratic and irrational. Newman questioned the authority Arnold assigned to the academy in the formation of a national culture. He pointed out that England was multicultural, a site of different values, and although an academic himself he sided with the nonacademic: Scholars are the tribunal of Erudition, but of Taste the educated but unlearned public is the only rightful judge; and to it I wish to appeal.
Even scholars collectively have no right, and much less have single scholars, to pronounce a final sentence on questions of taste in their court. Arnold deprecates appeal to popular taste: well he may! Yet if the unlearned are to be our audience, we cannot defy them. I myself, before venturing to print, sought to ascertain how unlearned women and children would accept my verses. I could boast how children and half-educated women have extolled them; how greedily a working man has inquired for them, without knowing who was the translator. He believed that if the living Homer could sing his lines to us, they would at first move in us the same pleasing interest as an elegant and simple melody from an African of the Gold Coast; but that, after hearing twenty lines, we should complain of meagreness, sameness, and loss of moral expression; and should judge the style to be as inferior to our own oratorical metres, as the music of Pindar to our third-rate modern music.
In arguing for a historicist approach to translation, Newman demonstrated that scholarly English critics like Arnold violated their own principle of universal reason by using it to justify an abridgement of the Greek text: Homer never sees things in the same proportions as we see them. The reception was mixed. Reviewers were especially divided on the question of whether the ballad or the hexameter was the acceptable verse form for Homeric translation. Our literature shows no regard for dignity, no reverence for law. Not every reviewer agreed with Arnold on the need for an academic elite to establish a national English culture.
Yet the criteria were mostly Arnoldian. Arnold is right in placing Homer in a very different class from the ballad-poets with whom he has frequently been compared. The ballad, in its most perfect form, belongs to a rude state of society—to a time when ideas were few. This cannot be said of Homer. This can be seen, first, in the publishing histories of the controversial documents. Chandler — William Morris […] has overlaid Homer with all the grotesqueness, the conceits, the irrationality of the Middle Ages, as Mr.
No idea approaches it. We may enlarge our conceptions beyond all imaginable space; we only produce atoms in comparison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, the centre of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere. Returning to himself, let man consider what he is in comparison with all existence; let him regard himself as lost in this remote corner of nature; and from the little cell in which he finds himself lodged, I mean the universe, let him estimate at their true value the earth, kingdoms, cities, and himself.
What is a man in the Infinite? But to show him another prodigy equally astonishing, let him examine the most delicate things he knows. Let a mite be given him, with its minute body and parts incomparably more minute, limbs with their joints, veins in the limbs, blood in the veins, humours in the blood, drops in the humours, vapours in the drops.
Dividing these last things again, let him exhaust his powers of conception, and let the last object at which he can arrive be now that of our discourse. Perhaps he will think that here is the smallest point in nature. I will let him see therein a new abyss. I will paint for him not only the visible universe, but all that he can conceive of nature's immensity in the womb of this abridged atom.
Let him see therein an infinity of universes, each of which has its firmament, its planets, its earth, in the same proportion as in the visible world; in each earth animals, and in the last mites, in which he will find again all that the first had, finding still in these others the same thing without end and without cessation. Let him lose himself in wonders as amazing in their littleness as the others in their vastness. For who will not be astounded at the fact that our body, which a little while ago was imperceptible in the universe, itself imperceptible in the bosom of the whole, is now a colossus, a world, or rather a whole, in respect of the nothingness which we cannot reach? He who regards himself in this light will be afraid of himself, and observing himself sustained in the body given him by nature between those two abysses of the Infinite and Nothing, will tremble at the sight of these marvels; and I think that, as his curiosity changes into admiration, he will be more disposed to contemplate them in silence than to examine them with presumption.
For in fact what is man in nature? A Nothing in comparison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean between nothing and everything. Since he is infinitely removed from comprehending the extremes, the end of things and their beginning are hopelessly hidden from him in an impenetrable secret, he is equally incapable of seeing the [Pg 18] Nothing from which he was made, and the Infinite in which he is swallowed up.
What will he do then, but perceive the appearance of the middle of things, in an eternal despair of knowing either their beginning or their end. All things proceed from the Nothing, and are borne towards the Infinite. Who will follow these marvellous processes? The Author of these wonders understands them. None other can do so. Through failure to contemplate these Infinites, men have rashly rushed into the examination of nature, as though they bore some proportion to her. It is strange that they have wished to understand the beginnings of things, and thence to arrive at the knowledge of the whole, with a presumption as infinite as their object.
For surely this design cannot be formed without presumption or without a capacity infinite like nature. If we are well informed, we understand that, as nature has graven her image and that of her Author on all things, they almost all partake of her double infinity. Thus we see that all the sciences are infinite in the extent of their researches. For who doubts that geometry, for instance, has an infinite infinity of problems to solve?
They are also infinite in the multitude and fineness of their premises; for it is clear that those which are put forward as ultimate are not self-supporting, but are based on others which, again having others for their support, do not permit of finality. But we represent some as ultimate for reason, in the same way as in regard to material objects we call that an indivisible point beyond which our senses can no longer perceive anything, although by its nature it is infinitely divisible.
Of these two Infinites of science, that of greatness is the most palpable, and hence a few persons have pretended to know all things. But the infinitely little is the least obvious. Philosophers have much oftener claimed to have reached it, and it is here they have all stumbled. This has given rise to such common titles as First Principles , Principles of Philosophy ,  and the like, as ostentatious in fact, though not in appearance, as that one which blinds us, De omni scibili. We naturally believe ourselves far more capable of reaching the centre of things than of embracing their circumference.
The visible extent of the world visibly exceeds us; but as we [Pg 19] exceed little things, we think ourselves more capable of knowing them. And yet we need no less capacity for attaining the Nothing than the All. Infinite capacity is required for both, and it seems to me that whoever shall have understood the ultimate principles of being might also attain to the knowledge of the Infinite. The one depends on the other, and one leads to the other. These extremes meet and reunite by force of distance, and find each other in God, and in God alone. Let us then take our compass; we are something, and we are not everything.
The nature of our existence hides from us the knowledge of first beginnings which are born of the Nothing; and the littleness of our being conceals from us the sight of the Infinite. Our intellect holds the same position in the world of thought as our body occupies in the expanse of nature. Limited as we are in every way, this state which holds the mean between two extremes is present in all our impotence. Our senses perceive no extreme. Too much sound deafens us; too much light dazzles us; too great distance or proximity hinders our view.
Too great length and too great brevity of discourse tend to obscurity; too much truth is paralysing I know some who cannot understand that to take four from nothing leaves nothing. First principles are too self-evident for us; too much pleasure disagrees with us. Too many concords are annoying in music; too many benefits irritate us; we wish to have the wherewithal to over-pay our debts. Excessive qualities are prejudicial to us and not perceptible by the senses; we do not feel but suffer them.
Extreme youth and extreme age hinder the mind, as also too much and too little education. In short, extremes are for us as though they were not, and we are not within their notice. They escape us, or we them. This is our true state; this is what makes us incapable of certain knowledge and of absolute ignorance. We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end. When we think to attach ourselves to any point and to fasten to it, it wavers and leaves us; and if we follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips past us, and vanishes for ever.
Nothing stays for us. This is our natural condition, and yet most contrary to our inclination; we burn with desire to find solid [Pg 20] ground and an ultimate sure foundation whereon to build a tower reaching to the Infinite. But our whole groundwork cracks, and the earth opens to abysses. Let us therefore not look for certainty and stability. Our reason is always deceived by fickle shadows; nothing can fix the finite between the two Infinites, which both enclose and fly from it. If this be well understood, I think that we shall remain at rest, each in the state wherein nature has placed him.
As this sphere which has fallen to us as our lot is always distant from either extreme, what matters it that man should have a little more knowledge of the universe? If he has it, he but gets a little higher. Is he not always infinitely removed from the end, and is not the duration of our life equally removed from eternity, even if it lasts ten years longer? In comparison with these Infinites all finites are equal, and I see no reason for fixing our imagination on one more than on another. The only comparison which we make of ourselves to the finite is painful to us.
If man made himself the first object of study, he would see how incapable he is of going further. How can a part know the whole? But he may perhaps aspire to know at least the parts to which he bears some proportion. But the parts of the world are all so related and linked to one another, that I believe it impossible to know one without the other and without the whole.
Man, for instance, is related to all he knows. He needs a place wherein to abide, time through which to live, motion in order to live, elements to compose him, warmth and food to nourish him, air to breathe. He sees light; he feels bodies; in short, he is in a dependent alliance with everything. To know man, then, it is necessary to know how it happens that he needs air to live, and, to know the air, we must know how it is thus related to the life of man, etc. Flame cannot exist without air; therefore to understand the one, we must understand the other. Since everything then is cause and effect, dependent and supporting, mediate and immediate, and all is held together by a natural though imperceptible chain, which binds together things most distant and most different, I hold it equally impossible to know the parts without knowing the whole, and to know the whole without knowing the parts in detail.
The fixed and constant immobility of nature, in comparison with the continual change which goes on within us, must have the same effect. And what completes our incapability of knowing things, is the fact that they are simple, and that we are composed of two opposite natures, different in kind, soul and body. For it is impossible that our rational part should be other than spiritual; and if any one maintain that we are simply corporeal, this would far more exclude us from the knowledge of things, there being nothing so inconceivable as to say that matter knows itself. It is impossible to imagine how it should know itself. So if we are simply material, we can know nothing at all; and if we are composed of mind and matter, we cannot know perfectly things which are simple, whether spiritual or corporeal.
Hence it comes that almost all philosophers have confused ideas of things, and speak of material things in spiritual terms, and of spiritual things in material terms. For they say boldly that bodies have a tendency to fall, that they seek after their centre, that they fly from destruction, that they fear the void, that they have inclinations, sympathies, antipathies, all of which attributes pertain only to mind. And in speaking of minds, they consider them as in a place, and attribute to them movement from one place to another; and these are qualities which belong only to bodies. Instead of receiving the ideas of these things in their purity, we colour them with our own qualities, and stamp with our composite being all the simple things which we contemplate.
Who would not think, seeing us compose all things of mind and body, but that this mixture would be quite intelligible to us? Yet it is the very thing we least understand. Man is to himself the most wonderful object in nature; for he cannot conceive what the body is, still less what the mind is, and least of all how a body should be united to a mind. This is the consummation of his difficulties, and yet it is his very being. Let us therefore examine her solutions to problems within her [Pg 22] powers.
If there be anything to which her own interest must have made her apply herself most seriously, it is the inquiry into her own sovereign good. Let us see, then, wherein these strong and clear-sighted souls have placed it, and whether they agree. We are well satisfied. We must see if this fine philosophy have gained nothing certain from so long and so intent study; perhaps at least the soul will know itself. Let us hear the rulers of the world on this subject. What have they thought of her substance? Is then the soul too noble a subject for their feeble lights? Let us then abase her to matter and see if she knows whereof is made the very body which she animates, and those others which she contemplates and moves at her will.
What have those great dogmatists, who are ignorant of nothing, known of this matter? Harum sententiarum ,  This would doubtless suffice, if reason were reasonable. She is reasonable enough to admit that she has been unable to find anything durable, but she does not yet despair of reaching it; she is as ardent as ever in this search, and is confident she has within her the necessary powers for this conquest. We must therefore conclude, and, after having examined her powers in their effects, observe them in themselves, and see if she has a nature and a grasp capable of laying hold of the truth. Felix qui potuit Nihil admirari.
Part I, 1, 2, c. To begin at the very beginning. What is there in the void that could make them afraid? Nothing is more shallow and ridiculous. This is not all; it is said that they have in themselves a source of movement to shun the void. Have they arms, legs, muscles, nerves? I cannot forgive Descartes. In all his philosophy he would have been quite willing to dispense with God. But he had to make Him give a fillip to set the world in motion; beyond this, he has no further need of God. But to say what these are, and to compose the machine, is ridiculous. For it is useless, uncertain, and painful. And were it true, we do not think all philosophy is worth one hour of pain.
How comes it that a cripple does not offend us, but that a fool does? Epictetus  asks still more strongly: "Why are we not angry if we are told that we have a headache, and why are we angry if we are told that we reason badly, or choose wrongly? So having assurance only because we see with our whole sight, it puts us into suspense and surprise when another with his whole sight sees the opposite, and still more so when a thousand others deride our choice. For we must prefer our own lights to those of so many others, and that is bold and difficult.
There is never this contradiction in the feelings towards a cripple. It is natural for the mind to believe, and for the will to love;  so that, for want of true objects, they must attach themselves to false. But being most generally false, she gives no sign of her nature, impressing the same character on the true and the false. I do not speak of fools, I speak of the wisest men; and it is among them that the imagination has the great gift of persuasion. Reason protests in vain; it cannot set a true value on things. This arrogant power, the enemy of reason, who likes to rule and dominate it, has established in man a second nature to show how all-powerful she is. She makes men happy and sad, healthy and sick, rich and poor; she compels reason to believe, doubt, and deny; she blunts the senses, or quickens them; she has her fools and sages; and nothing vexes us more than to see that she fills her devotees with a satisfaction far more full and entire than does reason.
Those who have a lively imagination are a great deal more pleased with themselves than the wise can reasonably be. They look down upon men with haughtiness; they argue with boldness and confidence, others with fear and diffidence; and this gaiety of countenance often gives them the advantage in the opinion of the hearers, such favour have the imaginary wise in the eyes of judges of like nature. Imagination cannot make fools wise; but she can make them happy, to the envy of reason which can only make its friends miserable; the one covers them with glory, the other with shame. What but this faculty of imagination dispenses reputation, [Pg 25] awards respect and veneration to persons, works, laws, and the great? How insufficient are all the riches of the earth without her consent!
Would you not say that this magistrate, whose venerable age commands the respect of a whole people, is governed by pure and lofty reason, and that he judges causes according to their true nature without considering those mere trifles which only affect the imagination of the weak? See him go to sermon, full of devout zeal, strengthening his reason with the ardour of his love.
He is ready to listen with exemplary respect. Let the preacher appear, and let nature have given him a hoarse voice or a comical cast of countenance, or let his barber have given him a bad shave, or let by chance his dress be more dirtied than usual, then however great the truths he announces. I wager our senator loses his gravity. If the greatest philosopher in the world find himself upon a plank wider than actually necessary, but hanging over a precipice, his imagination will prevail, though his reason convince him of his safety.
I will not state all its effects. Every one knows that the sight of cats or rats, the crushing of a coal, etc. The tone of voice affects the wisest, and changes the force of a discourse or a poem. Love or hate alters the aspect of justice. How much greater confidence has an advocate, retained with a large fee, in the justice of his cause! How much better does his bold manner make his case appear to the judges, deceived as they are by appearances!
How ludicrous is reason, blown with a breath in every direction! I should have to enumerate almost every action of men who scarce waver save under her assaults. For reason has been obliged to yield, and the wisest reason takes as her own principles those which the imagination of man has everywhere rashly introduced. We must judge by the opinion of the majority of mankind. Because it has pleased them, we must work all day for pleasures seen to be imaginary; and after sleep has refreshed our tired reason, we must forthwith start up and rush after phantoms, and suffer the impressions of this mistress of the world.
This is one of the sources of error, but it is not the only one. Our magistrates have known well this mystery. Their red [Pg 26] robes, the ermine in which they wrap themselves like furry cats,  the courts in which they administer justice, the fleurs-de-lis , and all such august apparel were necessary; if the physicians had not their cassocks and their mules, if the doctors had not their square caps and their robes four times too wide, they would never have duped the world, which cannot resist so original an appearance.
If magistrates had true justice, and if physicians had the true art of healing, they would have no occasion for square caps; the majesty of these sciences would of itself be venerable enough. But having only imaginary knowledge, they must employ those silly tools that strike the imagination with which they have to deal; and thereby in fact they inspire respect. Soldiers alone are not disguised in this manner, because indeed their part is the most essential; they establish themselves by force, the others by show. Therefore our kings seek out no disguises.
They do not mask themselves in extraordinary costumes to appear such; but they are accompanied by guards and halberdiers. Those armed and red-faced puppets who have hands and power for them alone, those trumpets and drums which go before them, and those legions round about them, make the stoutest tremble. They have not dress only, they have might. A very refined reason is required to regard as an ordinary man the Grand Turk, in his superb seraglio, surrounded by forty thousand janissaries. We cannot even see an advocate in his robe and with his cap on his head, without a favourable opinion of his ability. The imagination disposes of everything; it makes beauty, justice, and happiness, which is everything in the world.
I should much like to see an Italian work, of which I only know the title, which alone is worth many books, Della opinione regina del mondo. These are pretty much the effects of that deceptive faculty, which seems to have been expressly given us to lead us into necessary error. We have, however, many other sources of error. Not only are old impressions capable of misleading us; the charms of novelty have the same power. Hence arise all the disputes of men, who taunt each other either with following the false impressions of childhood or with running rashly after the new.
Who keeps the due mean? Let him appear and prove it. There is no principle, however natural to us from [Pg 27] infancy, which may not be made to pass for a false impression either of education or of sense. This is an illusion of your senses, strengthened by custom, which science must correct. We have another source of error in diseases. Our own interest is again a marvellous instrument for nicely putting out our eyes. The justest man in the world is not allowed to be judge in his own cause; I know some who, in order not to fall into this self-love, have been perfectly unjust out of opposition.
The sure way of losing a just cause has been to get it recommended to these men by their near relatives. Justice and truth are two such subtle points, that our tools are too blunt to touch them accurately. If they reach the point, they either crush it, or lean all round, more on the false than on the true. Let us now see how much But the most powerful cause of error is the war existing between the senses and reason. We must thus begin the chapter on the deceptive powers. Man is only a subject full of error, natural and ineffaceable, without grace. Nothing shows him the truth. Everything deceives him. These two sources of truth, reason and the senses, besides being both wanting in sincerity, deceive each other in turn.
The senses mislead the reason with false appearances, and receive from reason in their turn the same trickery which they apply to her; reason has her revenge. The passions of the soul trouble the senses, and make false impressions upon them. They rival each other in falsehood and deception. But besides those errors which arise accidentally and through lack of intelligence, with these heterogeneous faculties The imagination enlarges little objects so as to fill our souls with a fantastic estimate; and, with rash insolence, it belittles the great to its own measure, as when talking of God.
Things which have most hold on us, as the concealment of our few possessions, are often a mere nothing. It is a nothing which our imagination magnifies into a mountain. Another turn of the imagination would make us discover this without difficulty. Fancy has great weight. Shall we profit by it? Shall we yield to this weight because it is natural? No, but by resisting it Quasi quidquam infelicius sit homini cui sua figmenta dominantur.
Children who are frightened at the face they have blackened are but children. But how shall one who is so weak in his childhood become really strong when he grows older? We only change our fancies. All that is made perfect by progress perishes also by progress. All that has been weak can never become absolutely strong. We say in vain, "He has grown, he has changed"; he is also the same. Custom is our nature. He who is accustomed to the faith believes in it, can no longer fear hell, and believes in nothing else. He who is accustomed to believe that the king is terrible Who doubts then that our soul, being accustomed to see number, space, motion, believes that and nothing else?
Quod crebro videt non miratur, etiamsi cur fiat nescit; quod ante non viderit, id si evenerit, ostentum esse censet. Spongia solis. But nature often deceives us, and does not subject herself to her own rules. What are our natural principles but principles of custom? In children they are those which they have received from the habits of their fathers, as hunting in animals. A different custom will cause different natural principles. This is seen in experience; and if there are some natural principles ineradicable by custom, there are also some customs opposed to nature, ineradicable by nature, or by a second custom.
This depends on disposition. Parents fear lest the natural love of their children may fade away. What kind of nature is that which is subject to decay? Custom is a second nature which destroys the former. For is custom not natural? I am much afraid that nature is itself only a first custom, as custom is a second nature. The nature of man is wholly natural, omne animal. Memory, joy, are intuitions; and even mathematical propositions become intuitions, for education produces natural intuitions, and natural intuitions are erased by education.
When we are accustomed to use bad reasons for proving natural effects, we are not willing to receive good reasons when they are discovered. An example may be given from the circulation of the blood as a reason why the vein swells below the ligature. The most important affair in life is the choice of a calling; chance decides it. Custom makes men masons, soldiers, [Pg 30] slaters. These words move us; the only error is in their application. So great is the force of custom that out of those whom nature has only made men, are created all conditions of men. For some districts are full of masons, others of soldiers, etc. Certainly nature is not so uniform. It is custom then which does this, for it constrains nature.
But sometimes nature gains the ascendancy, and preserves man's instinct, in spite of all custom, good or bad. Bias leading to error. Each thinks how he will acquit himself in his condition; but as for the choice of condition, or of country, chance gives them to us. It is a pitiable thing to see so many Turks, heretics, and infidels follow the way of their fathers for the sole reason that each has been imbued with the prejudice that it is the best.
And that fixes for each man his conditions of locksmith, soldier, etc. Hence savages care nothing for Providence. There is an universal and essential difference between the actions of the will and all other actions. The will is one of the chief factors in belief, not that it creates belief, but because things are true or false according to the aspect in which we look at them. The will, which prefers one aspect to another, turns away the mind from considering the qualities of all that it does not like to see; and thus the mind, moving in accord with the will, stops to consider the aspect which it likes, and so judges by what it sees.
But what will man do? He cannot prevent this object that he loves from being full of faults and wants. He wants to be great, and he sees himself small. He wants to be happy, and he sees himself miserable. He wants to be the object of love and esteem among men, and he sees that his faults merit only their hatred and contempt. This embarrassment in which he finds himself produces in him the most unrighteous and criminal passion that can be imagined; for he conceives a mortal enmity against that truth which reproves him, and which convinces him of his faults.
He would annihilate it, but, unable to destroy it in its essence, he destroys it as far as possible in his own knowledge and in that of others; that is to say, he devotes all his attention to hiding his faults both from others and from himself, and he cannot endure either that others should point them out to him, or that they should see them. Truly it is an evil to be full of faults; but it is a still greater evil to be full of them, and to be unwilling to recognise them, since that is to add the further fault of a voluntary illusion. We do not like others to deceive us; we do not think it fair that they should be held in higher esteem by us than they deserve; it is not then fair that we should deceive them, and should wish them to esteem us more highly than we deserve.
Thus, when they discover only the imperfections and vices which we really have, it is plain they do us no wrong, since it is not they who cause them; they rather do us good, since they help us to free ourselves from an evil, namely, the ignorance of these imperfections. We ought not to be angry at their knowing our faults and despising us; it is but right that they should know us for what we are, and should despise us, if we are contemptible.
Such are the feelings that would arise in a heart full of equity and justice. What must we say then of our own heart, when we see in it a wholly different disposition? For is it not true that we hate truth and those who tell it us, and that we like them to be deceived in our favour, and prefer to be esteemed by them as being other than what we are in fact? One proof of this makes me shudder. The Catholic religion does not bind us to confess our sins indiscriminately to everybody; it allows them to remain hidden from all other men save one, to whom she bids us reveal the innermost recesses of our heart, and show ourselves as we are.
There is only this one man in the world whom she orders us to undeceive, and she binds him to an inviolable secrecy, which makes this knowledge to him as if it were not. Can we imagine anything more charitable and [Pg 32] pleasant? And yet the corruption of man is such that he finds even this law harsh; and it is one of the main reasons which has caused a great part of Europe to rebel against the Church.
How unjust and unreasonable is the heart of man, which feels it disagreeable to be obliged to do in regard to one man what in some measure it were right to do to all men! For is it right that we should deceive men? There are different degrees in this aversion to truth; but all may perhaps be said to have it in some degree, because it is inseparable from self-love. It is this false delicacy which makes those who are under the necessity of reproving others choose so many windings and middle courses to avoid offence.
They must lessen our faults, appear to excuse them, intersperse praises and evidence of love and esteem. Despite all this, the medicine does not cease to be bitter to self-love. It takes as little as it can, always with disgust, and often with a secret spite against those who administer it. Hence it happens that if any have some interest in being loved by us, they are averse to render us a service which they know to be disagreeable.
They treat us as we wish to be treated. We hate the truth, and they hide it from us. We desire flattery, and they flatter us. We like to be deceived, and they deceive us. So each degree of good fortune which raises us in the world removes us farther from truth, because we are most afraid of wounding those whose affection is most useful and whose dislike is most dangerous.
A prince may be the byword of all Europe, and he alone will know nothing of it. I am not astonished. To tell the truth is useful to those to whom it is spoken, but disadvantageous to those who tell it, because it makes them disliked. Now those who live with princes love their own interests more than that of the prince whom they serve; and so they take care not to confer on him a benefit so as to injure themselves. This evil is no doubt greater and more common among the higher classes; but the lower are not exempt from it, since there is always some advantage in making men love us.
Human life is thus only a perpetual illusion; men deceive and flatter each other. No one speaks of us in our presence as he does of us in our absence. Human society is founded on mutual deceit; few friendships would endure if each knew what his friend said of him in his absence, although he then spoke in sincerity and without passion. Man is then only disguise, falsehood, and hypocrisy, both in himself and in regard to others.
He does not wish any one to tell him the truth; he avoids telling it to others, and all these dispositions, so removed from justice and reason, have a natural root in his heart. I set it down as a fact that if all men knew what each said of the other, there would not be four friends in the world. This is apparent from the quarrels which arise from the indiscreet tales told from time to time. Some vices only lay hold of us by means of others, and these, like branches, fall on removal of the trunk. The example of Alexander's chastity  has not made so many continent as that of his drunkenness has made intemperate.
It is not shameful not to be as virtuous as he, and it seems excusable to be no more vicious. We do not believe ourselves to be exactly sharing in the vices of the vulgar, when we see that we are sharing in those of great men; and yet we do not observe that in these matters they are ordinary men. We hold on to them by the same end by which they hold on to the rabble; for, however exalted they are, they are still united at some point to the lowest of men. They are not suspended in the air, quite removed from our society. No, no; if they are greater than we, it is because their heads are higher; but their feet are as low as ours.
They are all on the same level, and rest on the same earth; and by that extremity they are as low as we are, as the meanest folk, as infants, and as the beasts. When our passion leads us to do something, we forget our duty; for example, we like a book and read it, when we ought to be doing something else. Now, to remind ourselves of our duty, we must set ourselves a task we dislike; we then plead that we have something else to do, and by this means remember our duty. How difficult it is to submit anything to the judgment of another, without prejudicing his judgment by the manner in [Pg 34] which we submit it!
If we say, "I think it beautiful," "I think it obscure," or the like, we either entice the imagination into that view, or irritate it to the contrary. It is better to say nothing; and then the other judges according to what really is, that is to say, according as it then is, and according as the other circumstances, not of our making, have placed it. But we at least shall have added nothing, unless it be that silence also produces an effect, according to the turn and the interpretation which the other will be disposed to give it, or as he will guess it from gestures or countenance, or from the tone of the voice, if he is a physiognomist.
So difficult is it not to upset a judgment from its natural place, or, rather, so rarely is it firm and stable! By knowing each man's ruling passion, we are sure of pleasing him; and yet each has his fancies, opposed to his true good, in the very idea which he has of the good. It is a singularly puzzling fact. Lustravit lampade terras. I have my foggy and my fine days within me; my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with the matter. I sometimes struggle against luck, the glory of mastering it makes me master it gaily; whereas I am sometimes surfeited in the midst of good fortune. Although people may have no interest in what they are saying, we must not absolutely conclude from this that they are not lying; for there are some people who lie for the mere sake of lying.
When we are well we wonder what we would do if we were ill, but when we are ill we take medicine cheerfully; the illness persuades us to do so. We have no longer the passions and desires for amusements and promenades which health gave to us, but which are incompatible with the necessities of illness. Nature gives us, then, passions and desires suitable to our present state. As nature makes us always unhappy in every state, our desires picture to us a happy state; because they add to the state in which we are the pleasures of the state in which we are not.
And if we attained to these pleasures, we should not be happy after all; because we should have other desires natural to this new state. The consciousness of the falsity of present pleasures, and the ignorance of the vanity of absent pleasures, cause inconstancy. Men are organs, it is true, but, odd, changeable, variable [with pipes not arranged in proper order. Those who only know how to play on ordinary organs] will not produce harmonies on these. We must know where [ the keys ] are. Hence it comes that we weep and laugh at the same thing. Inconstancy and oddity. They are united in the person of the great Sultan of the Turks.
Variety is as abundant as all tones of the voice, all ways of walking, coughing, blowing the nose, sneezing. We distinguish vines by their fruit, and call them the Condrien, the Desargues, and such and such a stock. Is this all? Has a vine ever produced two bunches exactly the same, and has a bunch two grapes alike? I can never judge of the same thing exactly in the same way. I cannot judge of my work, while doing it. I must do as the artists, stand at a distance, but not too far. How far, then? A man is a whole; but if we dissect him, will he be the head, the heart, the stomach, the veins, each vein, each portion of a vein, the blood, each humour in the blood? A town, a country-place, is from afar a town and a country-place. But, as we draw near, there are houses, trees, tiles, leaves, grass, ants, limbs of ants, in infinity.
All this is contained under the name of country-place. How many natures exist in man? How many vocations? And by what chance does each man ordinarily choose what he has heard praised? A well-turned heel. The heel of a slipper. How well this is turned! Here is a clever workman! How brave is this soldier! How little that one! Nature imitates herself.
A seed sown in good ground brings forth fruit. A principle, instilled into a good mind, brings forth fruit. Numbers imitate space, which is of a different nature. All is made and led by the same master, root, branches, and fruits; principles and consequences. Nature always begins the same things again, the years, the days, the hours; in like manner spaces and numbers follow each other from beginning to end. Thus is made a kind of infinity and eternity.
Not that anything in all this is infinite and eternal, but these finite realities are infinitely multiplied. Thus [Pg 37] it seems to me to be only the number which multiplies them that is infinite. Time heals griefs and quarrels, for we change and are no longer the same persons. Neither the offender nor the offended are any more themselves. It is like a nation which we have provoked, but meet again after two generations. They are still Frenchmen, but not the same. He no longer loves the person whom he loved ten years ago.
I quite believe it. She is no longer the same, nor is he. He was young, and she also; she is quite different. He would perhaps love her yet, if she were what she was then. We view things not only from different sides, but with different eyes; we have no wish to find them alike. The weariness which is felt by us in leaving pursuits to which we are attached.
A man dwells at home with pleasure; but if he sees a woman who charms him, or if he enjoys himself in play for five or six days, he is miserable if he returns to his former way of living. Nothing is more common than that. Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death. He then feels his nothingness, his forlornness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weakness, his emptiness. There will immediately arise from the depth of his heart weariness, gloom, sadness, fretfulness, vexation, despair. They were still young men, and thus difficult to restrain. Two faces which resemble each other, make us laugh, when together, by their resemblance, though neither of them by itself makes us laugh.
How useless is painting, which attracts admiration by the resemblance of things, the originals of which we do not admire! The struggle alone pleases us, not the victory. We love to see animals fighting, not the victor infuriated over the vanquished. We would only see the victorious end; and, as soon as it comes, we are satiated. It is the same in play, and the same in the search for truth. In disputes we like to see the clash of opinions, but not at all to contemplate truth when found. To observe it with pleasure, we have to see it emerge out of strife. So in the passions, there is pleasure in seeing the collision of two contraries; but when one acquires the mastery, it becomes only brutality. We never seek things for themselves, but for the search.
Likewise in plays, scenes which do not rouse the emotion of fear are worthless, so are extreme and hopeless misery, brutal lust, and extreme cruelty. A mere trifle consoles us, for a mere trifle distresses us. A man who has enough to live on, if he knew how to stay with pleasure at home, would not leave it to go to sea or to besiege a town. A commission in the army would not be bought so dearly, but that it is found insufferable not to budge from the town; and men only seek conversation and entering games, because they cannot remain with pleasure at home.
But on further consideration, when, after finding the cause of all our ills, I have sought to discover the reason of it, I have found that there is one very real reason, namely, the natural poverty of our feeble and mortal condition, so miserable that nothing can comfort us when we think of it closely. Whatever condition we picture to ourselves, if we muster all the good things which it is possible to possess, royalty is the finest position in the world. Yet, when we imagine a king attended with every pleasure he can feel, if he be without diversion, and be left to consider and reflect on what he is, this feeble happiness will not sustain him; he will necessarily fall into forebodings of dangers, of revolutions which may happen, and, finally, of death and inevitable disease; so that if he be without what is called diversion, he is unhappy, and more unhappy than the least of his subjects who plays and diverts himself.
Hence it comes that play and the society of women, war, and high posts, are so sought after. Not that there is in fact any happiness in them, or that men imagine true bliss to consist in money won at play, or in the hare which they hunt; we would not take these as a gift. We do not seek that easy and peaceful [Pg 40] lot which permits us to think of our unhappy condition, nor the dangers of war, nor the labour of office, but the bustle which averts these thoughts of ours, and amuses us. Hence it comes that men so much love noise and stir; hence it comes that the prison is so horrible a punishment; hence it comes that the pleasure of solitude is a thing incomprehensible. And it is in fact the greatest source of happiness in the condition of kings, that men try incessantly to divert them, and to procure for them all kinds of pleasures.
The king is surrounded by persons whose only thought is to divert the king, and to prevent his thinking of self. For he is unhappy, king though he be, if he think of himself. This is all that men have been able to discover to make themselves happy. And those who philosophise on the matter, and who think men unreasonable for spending a whole day in chasing a hare which they would not have bought, scarce know our nature. The hare in itself would not screen us from the sight of death and calamities; but the chase which turns away our attention from these, does screen us. The advice given to Pyrrhus to take the rest which he was about to seek with so much labour, was full of difficulties.
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