It is not generally known, and Ray doesn’t mention it in his otherwise excellent introduction to Victorian pteridomania, but fern fever in Britain arose from the mistranslation of the line “Already all that was near is far” as “Already all that was near is fern” in the long-lost Fareham edition of a rather beautiful poem by Goethe:
Dämmrung senkte sich von oben,
Schon ist alle Nähe fern;
Doch zuerst emporgehoben
Holden Lichts der Abendstern!
Alles schwankt ins Ungewisse,
Nebel schleichen in die Höh’;
Widerspiegelnd ruht der See.
Nun im östlichen Bereiche
Ahn’ ich Mondenglanz und -glut,
Schlanker Weiden Haargezweige
Scherzen auf der nächsten Flut.
Durch bewegter Schatten Spiele
Zittert Lunas Zauberschein,
Und durchs Auge schleicht die Kühle
Sänftigend ins Herz hinein.
I am joking of course, but the only English translation I found of this, an old, apparently scholarly gig by one UC Fischer (source URL at Hong Kong Journals Online apparently disfunctional), gets it wrong–“all that was new is now far away”–as well as printing the original without umlauts and with several other typos. There’s a sense-accurate but also umlaut-less paraphrase by Borges (Siete noches) in circulation, whose interpretation of the poem distances itself perhaps excessively from the original, but is now better known.
If we struggle with German chinoiserie, then how much chance is there of us mastering Mandarin?
- In praise of “guionación”
Margaret of Fürth comments on the online edition of Ronald McIntosh and David Fawthrop’s A discussion of the changing principles of
- Organ grinders and monkey and marmot migration
Any proto-ecologists don’t seem to have cared very much.
- The worst translator in the world? “Quoth she, so much I hate this nation, / I’ll damn this author in translation”
The London Magazine, 1734: Verses occasioned by Mr. Budgel’s modest Proposal, in the Daily Post-Boy of Aug. 31. to give the
- Reagrupament and mesophrase, the subcategory of translation that Dryden forgot
Candide of CataloniaWatch appears to have come to the conclusion that watching Catalonia is rather like watching paint dry, but without
- A tribute to the Valencian work ethic
Featuring my draft recording of “El dilluns jo no treballe”, with various other European “7 days lazy” songs.