05 March, 2005

No better than what I am

Someone alert Steven Riddle (whose weblog you really should be reading if you're at all serious about Catholic spirituality): I have added two new chapters to my translation of The Spiritual Combat.

It's been months since I updated my translation — perhaps even years. I remember that one of my possible resolutions for Lent last year (or maybe it was two years ago) was to translate one chapter a day. That didn't work out. Neither did translating one chapter a week.

It was easy to motivate myself to today's translation. I gave up on going in sequence because I really wanted to translate chapter 26. That's one of my favorite chapters in the text, due to the suggested prayer on occasions of sin: Lord, I have acted no better than what I am, nor could anyone have expected more from me. ...Now act according to who you are: forgive me, never allow me to remain far from you, nor to offend you again. Ladies and gentleman, this is a spiritual classic from the days of the Counter-Reformation, although you'd never guess based on what some people say about us (including some Catholics who should know better).

I didn't translate those sentences that way. That's what they feel like to me, but it's not exactly what they say. I agonized over the translation, and in the end I stuck with a more literal translation than what I feel. This rather contradicts my stated goal in the preface to translate it into the English that I might use to convey the ideas. The trouble is that at times I fear the English that I might use conflicts with the other goal: to ensure that the ideas [remain] entirely Scupoli's.

Sissignore, il traduttore è traditore. (Yessir, the translator is a traitor.)

Anyway, I read those two sentences early on in my Catholicism, at a time when I was beset by the very disquiet Lorenzo Scupoli described. Translating chapter 26 has therefore been a long-term goal of mine; the fact that I hadn't done it yet is one reason it took me so long to update the translation.

Chapter 27 was so short that it seemed a crime not to translate it tonight.

There you have it. Now that I've translated chapter 26, however, I may never translate another word of it again :-) Just kidding.

As for my thesis: I finished the first revision last night. It's a 213-page monstrosity, and it's only going to get longer, I fear — although I hope that subsequent revisions make parts of it feel less haphazard. I also hope those subsequent revisions won't require too much work, but that may be asking too much! :-)

PS: Please don't alert Steven; I can email him myself :-) If not for an encouraging email of his during an earlier pause in the translation, I may never have gotten past the first few chapters.

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