Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023323, Sun, 16 Sep 2012 18:18:49 -0300

[ A 1997 SIGHTING} Hofstadter on translation: form versus meaning

Douglas R. Hofstadter, Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of cognitive science and computer science at Indiana University, shows ... French poet Clement Marot during his Olin Lecture in Statler Auditorium on April 24...
By Bill Steele

We sent our reporter last Thursday to cover the Olin Lecture[ ] The reporter staggered in the following morning... muttering couplets in French[ ] This was the conclusion at which our reporter arrived:

A poem is more than meaning, so Douglas Hofstadter claims;
Without the scan and rhyme, he says, it wouldn't be the same.
But what if it's translated to some distant, foreign tongue?
Should we keep the form, or stick with the meaning, now unsung?
For Cornell's Nabokov, Douglas said, re-rhyming was a sin:
We must ignore the form, Vlad said, to keep the meaning in.
But Douglas, scarcely daunted, disagreed, with documentation,
And said translation's more than words, it must be "re-creation."
To illustrate, he chose a poem whose limits I would hate,
With just three syllables per line, and lines just twenty-eight,
Written by a Frenchman: il s'appelle Clement Marot;
But he did point out (in another's words) as he finished his oration
That "poetry is found, not lost, in [going through] translation."

Douglas Hofstadter lecture coverage

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