Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay “Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers” (The Task of the Translator) is no doubt the most widely read theoretical essay on literary translation of all time. Benjamin published it in 1921 as the foreword to a collection of his own translations of Baudelaire’s Tableaux parisiens (part of Les fleurs du mal), a circumstance all the odder for the apparent disconnect between the theoretical views on translation expressed in the essay and the way he went about translating the poems. I should write a blog post about Benjamin’s intriguing and often obscure essay one of these days, since I do have some thoughts on it and its usefulness to translators even today, but I am supposed to be on vacation right now, so I will confine myself to announcing that the august literary critic and scholar J. Hillis Miller will be speaking about Benjamin’s essay in conversation with Kyoo Lee next week. The event is entitled “What’s Left to Translate? Re-reading Benjamin’s ‘The Task of the Translator'” and will be held on Monday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 9204 at the Center for the Humanities at the The CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue.
P.S. I’ve been getting queries as to whether there’ll be an audio recording of this event for those who are unable to attend, and it seems there will be. I’ll post a link when it’s available.