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November 04, 2007


That passage does not actually strike me as that hard to read (in English). I can only take this to indicate that I really need to get out more, as I am clearly losing all contact with reality. (Which, in accord with the passage quoted, would also ruin my ability to do philosophy. It is a dilemma -- if I am psychotic enough to think Hegel is readable, then I am not sane enough to avoid airy scholasticism.)

Allen Wood's translation of that passage reads more naturally as English, and as far as I can tell it also sticks closer to Hegel's German. I'm actually curious why marxists.org used the 19th-century Dyde translation for the opening of the Rechtsphilosophie. I would be surprised if Knox had actually managed to do a worse job of translating it.

"The terror of a one-sided and empty formalism of thought"? That has to be a typo. Though it does give a neat French Revolution-y vibe to the sentence.

It's not hard to read in English. What I really meant is that he's hard to read in German. You'll notice that the number of sentences in the translation is a sight greater than two, and that various clauses have been relocated, some words introduced sometimes understandably (for pronoun purposes, I gather), sometimes not (castles in the air?).

I've heard people say just the opposite: that Hegel is impossible in translation, but not so bad in German. All these problems fall away if you're Jonah Goldberg.

As it happened in the actual translation group (which is the reason for the reading) things went pretty smoothly. And, moreover, I was the one who wound up doing the famous grey-on-grey owl of minerva sentence. Big win.

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