In the Workshop of the Translator
Walter Benjamin in/on Translation
Taking as its starting point Walter Benjamin’s The Task of the Translator, the paper provides insights on both his theory of translation and some of the translations of this essay. In doing so, the author lets the readers enter both Benjamin’s and her translator’s workshop. This process leads to a reflection at a metalevel on the dialectical tension between translator and translation, highlighting a hiatus between the experience of translating and the process of thinking about it. Translation emerges as a process of metamorphosis that lets the original survive in new forms, making us aware that the concept of an absolute singularity does not have any reason to exist, both for works of art and for our life. Thus, translation offers a privileged observation-point from which to reflect upon the concept of “life”, subverting one of the most stable categories of Western philosophy, one which is often taken for granted: the concept of subjectivity. Through the concept and the practice of translation, we become aware that every text, as every existence, is the result of a series of encounters and collisions and should therefore be considered only from the dimension of plurality.