#MondayReading: The Hermes Complex: Philosophical Reflections on Translation

April 24, 2017 10:23 am

Our #MondayReading suggestion for this week is the book The Hermes Complex: Philosophical Reflections on Translation by Charles Le Blanc.

Monday reading 24.04.2017

It is always healthy to sit down and reflect on all the things that we take for granted. This is what Charles Le Blanc challenges us to do in this deep and entertaining book. The official summary itself is enigmatic and reflective:

“When Hermes handed over to Apollo his finest invention, the lyre, in exchange for promotion to the status of messenger of the gods, he relinquished the creativity that gave life to his words. The trade-off proved frustrating: Hermes chafed under the obligation to deliver the ideas and words of others and resorted to all manner of ruses in order to assert his presence in the messages he transmitted. His theorizing descendants, too, allow their pretentions to creatorship to interfere with the actual business of reinventing originals in another language. Just as the Hermes of old delighted in leading the traveller astray, so his descendants lead their acolytes, through thickets of jargon, into labyrinths of eloquence without substance.

Charles Le Blanc possesses the philosophical tools to dismantle this empty eloquence: he exposes the inconsistencies, internal contradictions, misreadings, and misunderstandings rife in so much of the current academic discourse in translation, and traces the failings of this discourse back to its roots in the anguish of having traded authentic creativity for mere status.”

We invite you to spread the wings of your mind and prepare for a insightful reading. Let us know what are your impressions and if you, too, suffer from the Hermes Complex.


Post edited by Doris Fernandes del Pozo – Journalist, Translator-Interpreter and Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. She is pursuing a PhD as part of the Communication and Contemporary Information Programme of the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain).

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