Sonntag, 5. März 2017

The Translation-Jobbers

You see, Sir Walter, into what “sloughs of despond” we
German translators fall— with the sad necessity of drag-
ging your honor after us. Yet this is but a part of the ge-
neral woe. When you hear in every bookseller’s shop
throughout Germany one unanimous complaint of the
non-purchasing public and of those great profit-absor-
bing whirlpools, the circulating libraries,— in short all
possible causes of diminished sale on the one hand; and
on the other hand the forestalling spirit of competition
among the translation-jobbers, bidding over each other’s
heads as at an auction, where the translation is knocked
down to him that will contract for bringing his wares soo-
nest to market;—hearing all this, Sir Walter, you will per-
ceive that our old German proverb “Eile mit Weile,” (i. e.
Festina lente, or the more haste, the less speed) must in
this case, where haste happens to be the one great quali-
fication and sine-qua-non of a translator, be thrown alto-
gether into the shade by that other proverb— “Wer zuerst
kommt mahlt zuerst” (First come first served).

From the “German ‘Translator’s’ Dedication to Sir Wal-
ter Scott, Bart.”, in: Walladmor: “Freely translated [by
Georg Wilhelm Heinrich Häring aka Willibald Alexis] into
German from the English of Sir Walter Scott.” And now 
freely translated [by Thomas de Quincey] from the Ger-
man into English, London, Taylor and Hessey, 1825.