domingo, 3 de outubro de 2010
Uma nova tradução de textos bíblicos
em língua inglesa, da autoria de Rober Alter, é abordada no The New Yorker.
Refira-se que Robert Alter, eminente scholar de estudos bíblicos, é o autor do clássico The Art of Biblical Narrative, um livro precioso que adquiri nos Estados Unidos em 1985, pouco depois de ele ter sido publicado, e que muito útil me foi para as minhas aulas, nomeadamente de Introdução aos Estudos Literários e de Literatura Norte-Americana.
A importância deste livro é reconhecida, por exemplo, por José Tolentino Mendonça na sua tese de doutoramento, publicada pela Assírio & Alvim.
Deixo-vos o texto que nos recorda quão profundo foi o eco que a King James Version teve nos nossos horizontes culturais:
'THE SUN (ALSO) RISES: HOW ALTER’S NEW TRANSLATION FARES IN LITERATURE
By Nathaniel Stein
This month, Robert Alter publishes a new translation of three Biblical books in “The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes: A Translation with Commentary.” Alter, a Hebrew literature scholar at the University of California who has previously translated the Psalms and the five books of Moses, offers a rich alternative to the familiar translation that is in many ways more faithful to the ancient rhythms and meanings. James Wood, in a 2007 review of an earlier Alter translation, noted that “the Psalms (like the book of Job) were relentlessly Christianized by the King James translators,” and praised Alter for “stripping the English of these artificial cleansers” and “[taking] us back to the essence of the meaning.”
But the various inaccuracies and other inadequacies of the King James Version, though they justify a new translation, are beside the point when it comes to that version’s aesthetic power. The K.J.V. is so ingrained—its poetry has so completely seeped into the collective consciousness of the English-speaking world—that a new rendering, however valuable, is a vaguely disconcerting experience. In the four centuries since its completion, the K.J.V. has become our lives’ background poetry, its phrases and rhythms echoing through the canon, having been endlessly plundered by writers in search of a turn of phrase, or of a certain resonance unattainable elsewhere.
Which suggests a fun exercise for quickly determining just how different Alter’s new version is. In a world that possessed only this new translation, how would some familiar works be different? How would those famous titles, epigraphs, and other allusions come out?
For starters: “The Sun Also Rises,” taken from Ecclesiastes 1:5, would be “The Sun Rises.” Here is the King James Version:
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever… The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to the place where he arose… The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to its circuits… All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come thither they return again.
And here is Alter’s:
A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth endures forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets, and to its place it glides, there it rises.
It goes to the south and swings round to the north, round and round goes the wind, and on its rounds the wind returns.
All the rivers go to the sea, and the sea is not full.
To the place that the rivers go, there they return to go.
Richard Wright, who actually used the American Standard Version of the Book of Job for the epigraph to his Native Son—”Even today is my complaint rebellious / My stroke is heavier than my groaning”—would compromise only slightly with: “Even now my complaint is defiant, / His hand lies heavy as I groan.” The opening quotation of Oliver Stone’s movie “Platoon” also would remain relatively unscathed—”Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth” would be “Rejoice, young man, in your youth.”
But not everyone would escape so easily. Melville’s sub-sub-librarian of “Moby-Dick,” who “appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever random allusions to whales he could anyways find in any book whatsoever,” would have substituted his “Leviathan maketh a path to shine after him; / One would think the deep to be hoary” with the rather less satisfying “Behind him glistens a wake, / he makes the deep seem hoary.” Saul Bellow, whose thorns in “Herzog” “crackled”—echoing King James’s Ecclesiastes (“For like the crackling of thorns beneath the pot, so is the laughter of the fool”)—would have had to settle for a mere “sound of thorns beneath the pot.”
In the end, though, this cursory test tends to reveal the similarities of these two versions more than the differences. Later in Bellow’s book, Herzog’s parodic “time to speak and a time to shut up” would remain intact. So would T. S. Eliot’s “There will be a time to murder and create” in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” (So, for that matter, would John Grisham’s title “A Time to Kill.”) That’s because, unlike Eliot and Bellow, Alter finds little to warp and bend in the famous opening of Ecclesiastes’s third chapter. He leaves the haunting rhythm of the King James Version essentially unchanged:
Everything has a season, and a time for every matter under the heavens.
A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to rip down and a time to build.
A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to fling stones and a time to gather stones in. A time to embrace and a time to pull back from embracing.
A time to seek and a time to lose. A time to keep and a time to fling away.
A time to tear and a time to sew. A time to keep silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.'