Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Maybe now we'll get the revised translation

As many of those more familiar with the philosophy of Karol Wojtyla/JPII know, his definitive philosophical work is Osoba y czyn, translated literally in english as Person and Act. As is also known, the title of the published english translation of the work is The Acting Person, a title which subtly but nonetheless really changes the sense of the goal of the work. This is indicative of other problems with the translation, problems which George Weigel details in a footnote on pp. 174-175 of the first edition of Witness to Hope.

In short, the translator -- Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka -- apparently deemphasized the Thomistic dimension of the work and overemphasized the phenomenological dimension; that is, she crossed that (admittedly gray) line between translator and editor to such an extent that, as Weigel puts it, "the reader is, on occasion, not really in contact with Wojtyla's own thought."

As he goes on to detail, an revised english translation which corrects these deficiencies was made years ago, but it has yet to be published. One can only hope that the death of the Holy Father gives some impetus to moving that publishing process along.

Parenthetically, what's with the translation problems with JPII's work? Beside Person and Act, a number of people have pointed out that the single-volume version of The Theology of the Body has a number of edits not found in the original (and official) english translations of the Wednesday audiences. What's the deal?

No comments: