london

Juan Cruz

PEER

“Translation is only impossible as any worthwhile enterprise is impossible: impossible to perform with the perfection that we desire. What translators must do, like modern knights errant, is to come as close as we can to the impossible goal,” John Rutherford writes in the introduction to his recent Penguin Classics translation of Don Quixote. This would seem the standard take on translation. Yet its paradox feels glib. Can translation survive deconstruction? How might translation be done once the fantasy of perfection has been relinquished?

Juan Cruz is translating Don Quijote (again), 2005, raised these questions and others besides. Over twenty-four days, Cruz sat in a back room at Peer, translating Cervantes’s novel aloud and “on the hoof” from the original Spanish into English, managing to finish the entire book by his deadline of November 6. (To his advantage, this was Cruz’s second

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