Un/Translatables

Bethany Wiggin

Catriona MacLeod

Northwestern University Press
2016

The term "Untranslatables" is rooted in two explorations of translation written originally in German: Walter Benjamin's now ubiquitous "The Task of the Translator" and Goethe's extensive notes to his "tradaptation" of mystical Persian poetry. The essays collected in Un/Translatables unite two inescapable interventions in contemporary translation discourses: the concept of "Untranslatables" as points of productive resistance, and the Germanic tradition as the primary dialogue partner for translation studies. The essays collected in the volume pursue the critical itineraries that would result if "Untranslatables," as discussed in Barbara Cassin's Dictionary of Untranslatables, were returned, productively estranged, to their original German context. Thus, these essays explore Untranslatables across Germanic literatures—German, Yiddish, Dutch, and Afrikaans—and follow trajectories into Hebrew, Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese, English, and Scots.