Item 150 - Draft letter from R. C. Trevelyan [to Julien Luchaire ?]

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TRER/6/150

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Draft letter from R. C. Trevelyan [to Julien Luchaire ?]

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  • 25 Dec 1928 (Creation)

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I Tatti, Settignano, Florence. - [Luchaire's?] letter has been forwarded to him; he feels honoured to be asked about the problem of translation. Will reply now, but may give a more detailed answer on his return to England when he can 'consult friends and books'. Does not think the standard of translation in England is high at present; it is usually underpaid, and often taken on by 'unscholarly writers, who do not even write their own language well. Approves of C. K. Scott-Moncrieff's work. Does not know Russian, so cannot comment on the accuracy of Mrs [Constance] Garnett's translations, but they read well; [J.D.] Duff's translations of Aksakof seem first rate; some translations of Lyeskof [?] and other Russians are in 'bad slipshod English' and should be redone. Is told the standard of German translations of Russian is better than that of the English. Praises the translations of Gide by Mrs Strachey [Lady Jane Strachey?] and her daughter [Dorothy Bussy], and especially that of Jules Romain's "Le Mort de Quelqu'un" by Desmond MacCarthy and Sydney Waterlow. Doubts there are many good translations of contemporary French literature, as generally people who wish to read it can do so in French. Knows that a good translation of Valéry's dialogues, by 'Mrs Strachey' [actually by Dorothy Bussy?] and Mr [William] Stewart cannot find a publisher. Almost always finds translations of modern poetry 'unsatisfactory': there is not even a really good English translation of [Goethe's] "Faust", though he admires Stawell and Dickinson's book on the poem. Thinks it is probably not 'worthwhile trying to translate modern French and Italian poetry' except for private satisfaction; has never seen a translation of Russian poetry which gives him an idea of the original. Unfinished sentence in praise of Tagore's prose translations of his own poems.

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Perhaps related to 6/88, letter from H. S. Suhrawardy to Trevelyan, dated 3 Mar 1929, which says that Suhrawardy told Luchaire to write to Trevelyan on the subject of translation.

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