I. An Introduction of The Misery and the Splendor of Translation
This essay is presented as a fictitious dialogue at a colloquium attended by professors and students from the College de France and other academic circles. It consists of five parts, including: 1.the misery; 2.the two utopianisms; 3. about talking and keeping silent; 4.we don‟t speak seriously; 5. the splendor.
In the first Chapter of The Misery, Gasset starts the discussion with a question,
“Isn‟t the act of translating necessarily a utopian task?” He convinces that every thing
that Man does is utopian, and that Man is never to achieve what he proposes, and to remain merely an intention, a living utopia.
In regarding to translation, it is utopian because a well-written SL text is always a rebellion against the grammatical restrains, established usage, and accepted linguistic norms, while a translator, due to his “cowardice”, is never to do the same, and instead,
he will place the translated author in the prison of normal expression, and therefore betrays the original writer.
According to Gasset, the utopianism of the translation is based primarily on two aspects: the author‟s personal style (which is produced by his slight deviation from the habitual meaning of the word) and the “internal form” (linguistic style) of a
language, which together make it impossible that two languages belonging to two different languages can refer to exactly the same object.
In this part, Gasset also explains that certain scientific books such as mathematics, physics and even biology are easier to translate in that the scientist when writing the book has translated his own thought into a pseudolanguage formed by technical terms, namely, terminology. In other words, the use of terminology, which is considered a pseudolanguage, makes certain scientific books easier to translate.
In the three middle chapters of the essay, Ortega discusses several aspects related
to language. He firstly illustrates the two utopianisms, namely the bad utopianism and the good utopianism. The bad utopian believes that because it is desirable, it is possible. While the good utopian thinks that because it would be desirable to free men from the divisions imposed by languages, there is little probability that it can be
attained; therefore it can only be achieved at an approximate measure, and for the translation, there always exists the possibility of bettering, refining, and perfecting.
Then Gasset concerns his discussion with „talking”. He points out that talking is
also a utopian action. It is illusory to think Man begins to speak because he believes that he is going to be able to say what he thinks. That is to say, when we speak, we try to express our ideas or inner states but only partially succeed in doing so, because language doesn‟t allow them to be said, i.e. we are limited by our language in
As to “silence”, Gasset believes that language will not be understood at its root if one doesn‟t begin by noticing that speech is composed above all silences. All peoples silence something in order to be able to say others. Otherwise, everything would be unsay able. From this he deduces the enormous difficulty of translation: in it one tries to say in a language precisely what that languages tends to silence.
At last, the author points out that for a long time, humanity has not spoken seriously. That is to say, when we speak, we sometimes don‟t mean what we say. For
example, when we say “The moon is coming out”, we don‟t really mean that the
action “coming out” is something that the moon done by itself. But that is really how we speak.
All mentioned above, namely, the difficulties of language itself and silence pose a great obstacle to the task of translating and even make it impossible to achieve, but according to the author, they constituent the necessary steps to the possible splendor of the art of translation.
In the last chapter of The Splendor, Gasset put forwards two different methods of translating: either the author is brought to the language of the reader, or the reader is carried to the language of the author. Then he goes on the discussion by making clear what a translation can and ought to be. He points out that translation is not a duplicate of the original text and it doesn‟t even belong to the same literary genre as the text
that was translated. According to him, translation is a literary genre apart with its own norms and own ends, and a translation is not the work, but a path toward the work. Later on, he says that a repetition of a work is impossible and that the translation is
only an apparatus that carries us to it, so it is necessary to make diverse translations for the same text, because it is always possible to approximate all the dimensions of the original text at the same time. At last, he draws a conclusion: What is imperative is that, in translating, we try to leave our language and go to the other—and not the