Re: [OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Fri Jul 28 2006 - 23:37:51 EDT

Hi Jurriaan,

Yes, the devilish puzzle of this simple sentence evidences exactly what you
say about the intersection of science and art in translation.

I think 'defined' doesn't work because that is not what's happening.  It's
hard for me to see how the real appropriation of the surplus product through
labor generates a corresponding legal definition -- that seems to me (1) not
what's being talked about and (2) pretty automatic sounding.  That's why
'owing to' seemed to work better than 'in consequence of' -- in other words,
without a surplus product, nothing to crank up the machinery of a legal
definition or determination for.  But if, owing to the actual production of
a surplus product, one exists, then we can talk about legal determination or
definition, about, in short, who it belongs to.

I appreciate your use of 'defined' and will begin to look more carefully at
passages translated as 'determined.'  Sometimes I think the context can bear
the weight of real definition.



----- Original Message -----
From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <adsl675281@TISCALI.NL>
Sent: Friday, July 28, 2006 7:33 PM
Subject: [OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

> Howard,
> I think I'd prefer to  translate as follows:
> The surplus product - which, by the way, becomes legally defined in
> consequence of the real appropriation by labour - therewith spontaneously
> belongs to this highest unity."
> The basic principle I have myself in written translation is that it should
> make sense, and read well in another language - which is why I don't
> like Nicolaus's version all that much for practical purposes, because he's
> often rather vague and sloppy. Admittedly the Grundrisse is a difficult
> text, and sometimes obscure, but if you translate so that it could intend
> mean all sorts of things or nothing at all, then we're not much further
> ahead.
> Nicolaus tried to show Marx's thought process literally, "warts and all",
> but the presumption is, that he somehow follows Marx's thought process
> completely, and from the textual evidence, I doubt that quite a bit. As I
> mentioned, I believe that once a text has been translated one or more
> it's easier to improve the translation, because a lot of the simpler
> problems have been solved already, and you can then concentrate on getting
> the meaning good and sharp, paying attention to nuances.
> As regards Paul Bullock, I studied his corrected manuscript of Prof.
> Itoh's "The Basic Theory of Capitalism", and really I cannot have a very
> high opinion of Paul's demonstrated editorial/linguistic skills, since the
> published text (Barnes & Noble 1988) is littered with straightforward
> and poor styling.
> You can of course object to the Pelican library translation of Marx's
> Capital on the ground that (1) it is published by Penguin/NLR, (2) it is
> introduced by the dreaded Ernest Mandel, (3) it is a paperback, and so on.
> However, it is definitely a better translation overall than previous ones,
> Ben Fowkes and David Fernbach are very good translators, and people who
> all that don't know what they are talking about.
> Translation is often regarded as low-status monkey work, but in reality it
> involves a science and art of communication, and a considerable amount of
> inventiveness and creativity as well as the ability to think clearly.
> Translation can make or break a text, and consequently make or break a
> communication; it can also twist the meaning of a message around, so that
> is critically a bit different from what is intended. We are used to having
> the propaganda networks spout news at us in English, but behind that
> is a lot of translation, something which is often forgotten. The more
> "globalised" we become, the more translation occurs.
> Jurriaan

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