Doniger O'Flaherty's translations (1 of 2)

Max.Nihom at Max.Nihom at
Sun Nov 19 14:43:47 UTC 1995

>Responding to the letter that said that Wendy O'Flaherty's translations were
>popular because of their packaging and price:  
>It ain't necessarily so. I've used her translations often in Freshman and
>Sophomore general education classes. The fact is that they are readable and
>organized in a pedagogically useful way. More accurate translations are
>sometimes so hard to read. My students need clear, user friendly English and
>an apparatus which deals with their needs. These things OF providess.
>Inaccuracies? Well, of course, I naturally deplore inaccuracies. I'm sure
>there are none or few in my own translations. But, if there are inaccuracies
>in OF's translations, there are no in spots that cause me a problem in an
>introductory course in Asian Literature. The students are doing a quick and
>cursory reading and walk away with only the vaguest sense of what they have
>read. If I were focusing on a text with a sustained examination, I might
>choose another kind of translation. 
>Here's a good example of that. I like using Dorothy Sayer's translation of
>_The Divine Comedy_ in broad humanities classes. It rhymes and is fun to
>read and has a sense of spirit. The footnotes address interesting religious
>issues. I know that it is full of inaccuracies. But it can be read quickly
>and easily and enjoyed by a neophyte. For a slow, sustained reading, there
>are several much more carefully translated and more fully annotated editions. 
>Robin Kornman

I see. Instead of an education, the students are to get advanced cocktail 
party training. 

Max Nihom


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