A writer is …

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

Thomas Mann

A great quote, courtesy of Michael Wade at Execupundit.

Mann was a German writer famous for Death in Venice (remember the strangely haunting Dirk Bogarde film?) and The Magic Mountain.

The latter made me aware of translation. On a whim, I’d bought an expensive, hardback edition of the novel. I started it and determined to take it on holiday. My copy was too bulky and too fine to lug to Austria and slather in sun-cream so I found a paperback … which was oh, so different in tone and language. The same novel, the same underlying German, but a very different English outcome.

And, of course, translations change over time and need to change over time. A contemporary translation of Marcus Aurelius, written in the 1960s has a different nuance from one written more recently. Each interpreted for its time, but which is truer not just to the words, but to the intent?

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