EDNOTE. Dieter Zimmer, Germany's foremost
Nabokovian, is the editor of the in-progress Rowohlt edition of VN's collected
----- Original Message -----
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