Jeremy Osner of READIN is trying to translate Novalis’ “Hymns to the Night” (see here, here, here, and here) and says “I’m trying to put together a new translation of “Hymns to the Night”, an updated version of MacDonald’s translation, which is more than a hundred years old now and sounds a little stilted to me. I set up an engine for a collaborative translation effort (since I am myself neither a fluent speaker of German nor a student of Romantic literature) here — if you or any of your readers want to make suggestions I would love to hear them.” So if that sounds like fun, head on over and help out.
Something completely different: this blog is devoted to the French equivalent of “asshole,” the sale con; this post invites comments on how to say it in Québec (the suggested equivalent is chien sale).


  1. I have to confess, I think the Philosophical Fragments far superior to both the Hymns and Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Though it does already have a modern translation. But why doesn’t someone do The Disciples at Sais, which has no English translation at all?

  2. Collaborative translation enterprises can only provoke quarelling between those who believe that poetry is translatable, and those who feel that translations should serve only as cribs so that the reader can more easily approach the original.

  3. Thanks LH, I’m getting some useful comments and no dross as yet. Conrad: I have read nothing of Novalis — I am as I wrote to LH not a student of Romantic literature — I was just really struck by this work when I read it over at Logopoeia and wanted it to sound less archaic. Christopher: it seems to me like it’s necessary (for me) to translate poetry — translating is what I am doing when I read the German, since my German is nothing like fluent — doing it on paper formalizes it and gives me the opportunity to correct mistakes (like my translation of “unselig” as “mundane”, which LH pointed out does not work.) So I guess I am using the translation process as a “crib” to more easily approach the original — but I don’t see what’s wrong with that?

  4. “Die Lehrlinge zu Sais” is now available in English as “The Novices of Sais”

  5. Ooh, and translated by Ralph Manheim! That should be good.

  6. Hey, good call. Thanks!

  7. marie-lucie says:

    chien sale?? I am probably behing the times, but to me this means a dog which is physically dirty – perhaps after running in the mud. Like several other adjectives, sale coming after a noun has literal, concrete meaning, but before a noun, conventional or figurative meaning. You could use just about any noun prefaced with sale>/i> and make it into an insult. Perhaps the person who suggested chien sale was unknowingly using a literal translation of English dirty dog.

  8. It was specifically québécois usage that was being discussed; how familiar are you with it?

  9. David Marjanović says:

    You could use just about any noun prefaced with sale and make it into an insult.

    I love how you can take any noun, put “espèce de” in front of it, and have an insult! :^)

Speak Your Mind