The weight of the humanist tradition: the first half of the twentieth century

In the West, history translation has played a fundamental role in the transmission of knowledge: it has served to facilitate the reading of vulgar versions of texts considered to be important, to teach grammar and learn languages, and also to shape style by studying and imitating classical models. As a centuries-old practice, translation in our tradition has a humanist basis that falls within the concept of humanism proposed by Rico (11), as a continuous line of men of letters who transfer certain knowledge from one to the other and consider themselves to be the heirs of the same legacy, based on studying classical languages and interpreting and commenting on texts. After the humanist period, the German Romantic movement would revive interest in the historical and comparative study of language, favouring the translation of works of universal literature and considering the relevance of most appropriate method for translating them. In this tradition, the texts that have aroused the most interest are literary ones, because as Steiner says, in line with Schleiermacher and Ortega y Gasset, “[i]t is the upper range of semantic events which make problems of translation theory and practice most visible, most incident to general questions of language and mind” (265-266), and therefore the preferred method will be that which gives priority to closeness to the original.

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