NABOKV-L post 0008742, Tue, 14 Oct 2003 10:09:21 -0700

Fw: Fw: VN, Ciardi, translation
MessageEDNOTE. Dieter Zimmer, Germany's foremost Nabokovian, is the editor of the in-progress Rowohlt edition of VN's collected works.

----- Original Message -----
From: Dieter E. Zimmer
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Monday, October 13, 2003 11:23 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: VN, Ciardi, translation

Rodney Welch's suspicion that Nabokov hated John Ciardi's Dante is indeed well-founded even if there is no mention of it in his published writings. In one of his last statements ("New York Times Book Review", Dec 5, 1976), he praised Charles S. Singleton's "Inferno" (1970). This is what he wrote: "What triumphant joy it is to see the honest light of literality take over again, after ages of meretricious paraphrase."

By the way, "literality" is an ambiguous word. In all discussion of Nabokov's views on paraphrase and adaptation it is important to see that he used the concept not in the meaning the OED gives it, "taking words in their etymological or primary sense, or in the sense expressed in the actual wording of a passage, without recourse to any metaphorical or suggested meaning." That is, he did not at all favor 1:1 translations, word by word. What he clearly meant by "literal" was "true to meaning" (of a sentence), or speaking with Webster III: "actual, obvious - being without exaggeration or embellishment." Translators beware!

Dieter E. Zimmer, Berlin
October 14, 2003 -- 8:1am