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Against Translation

Kenneth Goldsmith

Against Translation is a text by American poet Kenneth Goldsmith (born 1961) published in eight volumes–English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Arabic. The author discusses the impasses and shortcomings of translation and the virtues of an unapologetic linguistic “displacement.” “Translation is the ultimate humanist gesture,” he states. “Polite and reasonable, it is an overly cautious bridge builder … in the end, it always fails, for the discourse it sets forth is inevitably off-register.” Displacement, by contrast, never explains itself.