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FREUD, A. (1969). James Strachey—1887–1967. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:131-132.

(1969). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 50:131-132

James Strachey—1887–1967 Related Papers


It cannot be easy for any man to give up his own personal pursuits for the purpose of immersing himself wholly in the work of another. But this is, in fact, what James Strachey undertook to do and achieved. In his middle years he had already acquired considerable status as a clinical analyst, as a teacher in the British Institute for Psycho-Analytical Society and the in the British Psycho-Analytical Association, as International Psycho-Analytical Association, as the author of scientific papers. All these activities were abandoned by him when he decided to become the translator of Freud's Complete Works, and when he followed up this decision by withdrawing into voluntary seclusion, i.e. into the form of life which seemed to him best suited to the task.

To translate any scientific matter is fraught with difficulties of all kinds. What is needed, obviously, is a thorough knowledge of both languages in question as well as familiarity with the subject-matter. There is the widespread conviction that most translators miss out on one or the other of these requirements, if not on all three. But even where the translator is thoroughly equipped, the work is hard at best, and frustrating and unrewarding at its worst. Expression in one language does not lend itself automatically to expression in another. What is natural to a German author such as allusions, similes, imagery, etc. sounds flowery and unsuitable to the English reader; conversely, what counts as precise in English, strikes the German reader as barren and arid. There are always idioms which defy translation. Quotations which are familiar to the readers in one culture lack appeal when carried over into another.

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