February 3rd, 2004

Retranslate Plutarch!

I'm studying for my Greek History exam, but I have a hard time concentrating; I am plagued by my own dissatisfaction with the Hebrew translation of Plutarch's Lives, with which I'm working.

The Lives were translated chiefly by E. E. Hallevy, but a few were translated by M. H. Ben-Shamai and Y. Liebes; the language is unnecessarily ladened with archaisms (though the translations are not that old!), overly keen on finding equivalents for Greek terms and establishments in Jewish tradition (thus often obscuring the original and causing misleading conflations), and rather badly transliterated (difficult names and terms are not diacriticized, and so Hebrew readers who don't know the originals can't tell the proper pronunciation).

It is generally faithful, and the annotations are decent (if a bit terse). But it is high time to modernize the translation, or (better yet) to re-translate. Very well, but why can't I leave it alone for now? Why am I constantly checking the original when words rings false, and mentally re-translating whole sentences? It's a waste of time, damn it!

Consider this entry a bit of hopeful exorcism.
  • Current Music
    David Bowie -- It Ain't Easy [Live at the Beeb]