Tuesday, November 18, 2008


A few weeks ago, I was reading Voltaire’s Candide (in translation) and I came across the following lines in Chapter 18:

Cacambo translated the King’s witticisms for Candide, to whom they seemed witty even in translation. Of all the things that astonished Candide, this was by no means the least astonishing.

In other words, Voltaire seems to be suggesting that the idea that humor could be translated is astonishing. Many things on Candide’s adventures are indeed astonishing, but good translations, in my opinion, should be viewed as achievable in the hands of good translators, not shocking.

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