Page:The Craftsmanship of Writing.djvu/279

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Here, as always in translating, the one safe rule is, compromise,—and in this the instinct of the born translator is revealed.

But there are certain problems, certain pitfalls, that cannot be foreseen, any more than they can be classified, which every now and then arise to disconcert and hamper the translator, usually at a moment when everything seems to be running most smoothly. There are, for instance, certain plays upon words, certain effects dependent upon the sound or cadence of the original that is simply untranslatable. Mr. William Archer, in his preface to the collected works of Ibsen, points out that this type of difficulty is curiously frequent in the writings of the great Norwegian dramatist, and cites in particular the following illustration:

In not a few cases the difficulties have proved sheer impossibilities. I will cite only one instance. Writing of The Master Builder, a very