Page:The Craftsmanship of Writing.djvu/259

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THE TECHNIQUE OF TRANSLATING

quite as likely to be a masterpiece as are the great majority of current American novels which will probably never be translated into any sort of foreign edition, ten-cent or otherwise.

Now, as a matter of fact, there is a technique of translating and one which is neither quickly nor easily acquired. Walter Pater's comparison of translating to a copy of a picture made through tracing paper sounds clever but is misleading. Mechanical aid in rendering one language into another is precisely the sort of aid which must be most scrupulously avoided. The mere ability to hold a pencil and copy the strokes line by line does not even make up the alphabet of the craft. You might spend your life putting tracing paper over Raphael's Madonna della Sedia without ever getting more than a caricature of the original. It takes a long apprenticeship and a specially developed skill to enable a

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