Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Nietzsche Translations

Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 02:56:51 AM
Hi,

Are any of you familiar with Walter Kaufmann's translations of Nietzsche? I've heard both positive and negative comments on his behalf. For instance, some claim that he clears up misconstrued arguments against Nietzsche and tastefully explains the blunders of those who argue against him. A few even go as far to claim he is the premier scholar of Nietzsche. On the other hand, I've heard that he liberalizes Nietzsche's arguments into the despicable trash of today's multicultural and Christianized world--the very ideas that Nietzsche battled against.

I myself have not read Kaufmann's translation or enough of Nietzsche to form a strong opinion, but I can understand where each view comes from. If one were to look at the vast amount of positive reviews for "Basic Writings of Nietzsche" or "The Portable Nietzsche" on Amazon, one would observe the near unanimous opinion for Nietzsche. It would be easy to take an arbitrary approach and accept that Nietzsche is merely gaining respect, but perhaps it goes much deeper than that.

In the "scholarly world," it would not be overly-assumptive to say that the majority mentality rules for a liberal democracy. From your teachers in middle school to your professors in college; it is all the same. I believe that this ideology has been imprinted on any average "intelligent person." Therefore, the high demand for Kaufmann's translation may be due to its conformity to modern ideas.

But, to be completely honest,  I am no expert on Nietzsche,  philosophy, translations, or German. For all I know, Kaufmann's translations may really be the most accurate and clarified available. I'm simply a sophomore high school student who is somewhat interested in philosophy, but has no grounding or guidance in it.

What do you think?

Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 07:52:29 AM
Quote
Therefore, the high demand for Kaufmann's translation may be due to its conformity to modern ideas.


That's is a bit far-fetched, don't you think? I think it's more likely due to its conformity to modern English. Some of the other translations are a bit archaic in verse and language, making the Kaufmann translations seem more lucid by comparison.

These are just my observations though, and I suppose you're better off getting an answer from one of the German speakers on this forum. I'm currently attempting to learn German myself for this very reason.

Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 09:18:18 AM
Quote
Hi,

Are any of you familiar with Walter Kaufmann's translations of Nietzsche? I've heard both positive and negative comments on his behalf. For instance, some claim that he clears up misconstrued arguments against Nietzsche and tastefully explains the blunders of those who argue against him. A few even go as far to claim he is the premier scholar of Nietzsche. On the other hand, I've heard that he liberalizes Nietzsche's arguments into the despicable trash of today's multicultural and Christianized world--the very ideas that Nietzsche battled against.



From my perspective, a bit of both opinions are true. Having read virtually all of Kaufmann's translations, including his biography of Nietzsche, I would say from a pure translation point, his work is exceptional - far better than many.(I speak some German - but not formally however, so that is purely a layman's opinion)

It is his interpretations and explanations of Nietzsche's philosophy itself that sometimes become problematic for me. Kaufmann was apparently obsessed with proving that Nietzsche was NOT and anti-semite, not a "racist," or nationalist, nor would he likely have held any sympathies with the Third Reich, despite some later claims from therein. While some this is in fact clearly true on many levels, Kaufmann misses no opportunity to breathlessly "sanitize" nearly all of Nietzsche's more "controversial" positions, that could be read as "right wing" or "extremist" in tone. His footnotes drip with it in some works. †
Nietzsche was obviously a complex man, and his true opinions on race, etc., for instance, would no doubt fit into no simple category in line with how such things are viewed today - or even in Kaufmann's day.

The problem is, I don't personally know of any better English translations(or any at all for some works) without the humanitarian/egalitarian friendly disclaimer-commentary of Kaufmann applied thereto. After awhile, I just started to ignore his tedious de-fanging of old Friedrich, in regard to some of the more "touchy" topics. That's just a personal preference I suppose. †

That is just a rushed generalization - I'm sure many here are better versed on the topic and can offer plenty of guidance.


Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 09:30:23 AM
Having read some of Kaufmann's translations, I cannot see how anyone could think that he liberalizes Nietzsche's arguments. The fact that those anthologies have so many positive reviews hardly implies conformity, but just that those are the most widely available editions and people will go to those to get a good idea of Nietzsche's thought, since they contain parts of multiple works. I own both of those, and they read just as brilliantly and radical as you would expect from Nietzsche.

Quote
I think it's more likely due to its conformity to modern English.


This is the only difference I could see. Having only read parts of Zarathustra by other translators, I noticed that Kaufmann seems to simplify the language a little, to make it easier to read in English. I can understand why people would translate it with archaic language, as I've heard that Nietzsche's language was itself archaic. I don't think it affects the understanding that much. However, there is always a little bit lost in translating into another language. Try learning German.

Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 12:30:14 PM
Quote
I'm currently attempting to learn German myself for this very reason.


Are you self-studying or do you have an instructor?

Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 01:57:25 PM
Quote

That's is a bit far-fetched, don't you think? I think it's more likely due to its conformity to modern English. Some of the other translations are a bit archaic in verse and language, making the Kaufmann translations seem more lucid by comparison.

These are just my observations though, and I suppose you're better off getting an answer from one of the German speakers on this forum. I'm currently attempting to learn German myself for this very reason.


I am trying to the same thing, my interest in the language in unlimited - however im teaching my self and have just  begun.

Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 02:31:18 PM
I've not heard that he sanitized any of Nietzsche's ideas. His constant battle to disassociate Nietzsche from the Third Reich was something I've always seen as a valiant attempt to bring Nietzsche into the realm of legitimate scholarship, which Kauffman almost single handedly did with his biography.

From a language standpoint, every other translator I've found completely sucks compared to Kaufmann. From what I've been told (I don't speak German), Nietzsche's command of the German language is the equivalent of Shakespeare's mastery and inventiveness with English. Making that kind of language sing in a translation is difficult, but so far Mr. Kaufmann is the only one I've found that has managed to endow Nietzsche's works with a profound sense of poetry that Nietzsche must surely have intended, and which the German versions undoubtedly posses.

Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 03:19:29 PM
Quote
I've not heard that he sanitized any of Nietzsche's ideas. His constant battle to disassociate Nietzsche from the Third Reich was something I've always seen as a valiant attempt to bring Nietzsche into the realm of legitimate scholarship, which Kauffman almost single handedly did with his biography.


Kaufmann was born in 1921. At that point, Nietzsche was already recognized. Kaufmann helped popularize Nietzsche, and in my view, did a good job. He created quality English translations. However, much of his commentary misstates Nietzsche, and it often is an overcompensation to attempt to undo what Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche wrought. But times change, and there are now translations less stodgy than Kaufmann.
ASBO

“Kurt Cobain was, ladies and gentlemen, a worthless shred of human debris.” - Rush Limbaugh

Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 05:09:49 PM
Great topic! †Anybody want to rattle off any other worthy translators? †I'm only familiar with Kaufmann, myself. †Somewhere along the way I heard a guy by the name of Ludovici did an admirable job on 'Zarathustra,' but I've never read it myself so I can't comment. †In any event, I have read all of Nietzsche's works as translated by Kaufmann. †I don't know any German and I haven't read any other translations so I can't compare, but Nietzsche still sounds pretty beligerent (in a good way) to me. †I mean if Kaufmann somehow liberalized him and toned him down, I would hate to hear what Nietzsche sounds like NOT toned down. †To summarize:  Nietzsche still sounds like a man possessed, even in the Kaufmann translations, although learning German would be ideal I suppose.
I live in my own place
Have never copied nobody even half
And at any Master who lacks the grace
To laugh at himself, I laugh!

chrstphrbnntt

Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 07:11:19 PM
Quote
Great topic!  Anybody want to rattle off any other worthy translators?  I'm only familiar with Kaufmann, myself.  Somewhere along the way I heard a guy by the name of Ludovici did an admirable job on 'Zarathustra,' but I've never read it myself so I can't comment.  In any event, I have read all of Nietzsche's works as translated by Kaufmann.  I don't know any German and I haven't read any other translations so I can't compare, but Nietzsche still sounds pretty beligerent (in a good way) to me.  I mean if Kaufmann somehow liberalized him and toned him down, I would hate to hear what Nietzsche sounds like NOT toned down.  To summarize:  Nietzsche still sounds like a man possessed, even in the Kaufmann translations, although learning German would be ideal I suppose.


You'd probably like Mencken's translation of The Antichrist.

Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 07:52:30 PM
I second Ludovici, his site is a very good reference for understanding Nietzsche better: http://www.anthonymludovici.com/


Re: Nietzsche Translations
March 21, 2008, 08:56:23 PM
Quote
I've not heard that he sanitized any of Nietzsche's ideas. His constant battle to disassociate Nietzsche from the Third Reich was something I've always seen as a valiant attempt to bring Nietzsche into the realm of legitimate scholarship, which Kauffman almost single handedly did with his biography.


Perhaps "sanitize" was too strong a term. But Kaufmann definitely goes beyond simply addressing, or correcting if you will, the Third Reich association; and does  in my opinion and as Onan noted occasionally "overcompensate" for his sister's apparently dubious depictions of her brother, etc., and the legacy all that left behind.