7 November 2013

A Living Book

Charles Whibley, "Translators," in The Cambridge History of English Literature, Vol. IV (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 1-25, (at p. 16):
It will be seen that Florio’s method [of translating Michel de Montaigne's essays] was neither just nor accurate. He made no attempt to suppress himself as we are told a good translator should. The reader never forgets that “resolute John Florio” is looking out from the page as well as Montaigne. He is often inaccurate, and not seldom he misses the point. But compare his version with [Charles] Cotton’s, and you will not hesitate to give the palm to Florio. Cotton’s translation is a sound and scholarly piece of work; Florio’s is a living book.