The Problem of Pure Language in Walter Benjamin's "The Task of the Translator" from the Perspectives of Paul De Man, Gilles Deleuze, and Jorge Luis Borges

벤야민의 「번역가의 과제」와 폴 드만, 들뢰즈, 보르헤스

  • Received : 2013.11.10
  • Accepted : 2013.12.12
  • Published : 2013.12.30

Abstract

This paper explores the concept of pure language introduced in Walter Benjamin's "The Task of the Translator" and looks at various perspectives on this concept represented in theories of Paul De Man and Gilles Deleuze and a short story of Jorge Luis Borges. According to "The Task of the Translator," pure language is defined as a vessel of which fragments are the original and the translation. Just as fragments are part of a vessel, so the original and the translation are fragments of a greater language, which is pure language. On the other hand, De Man, from a deconstructive criticism, says that pure language does not exist except as a permanent disjunction, which inhabits all languages as such, and that any work is totally fragmented in relation to this pure language and every translation is totally fragmented in relation to the original. While De Man consider pure language incorporeal, Deleuzian interpretation regards it as a virtual object or differenciator in relation to which the two series of the original and the translation coexist and resonate. Finally in Borges's "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" Menard attempt to translate Cervantes's Don Quixote identically in every detail. By showing a case in which the original and the translation are the same, Borges raises a question what would take place in relation to pure language if the original and the translation were identical. In Deleuze, identity and resemblance are the result of a differenciator, but in Borges, identity is a differenciator which produces differences. If we apply this logic to the last paragraph of "The Task of the Translator," we can say the interlinear version of Scriptures, as the prototype or ideal of all translation, in the form of which the original and the translation must be one, is a differenciator, an endless difference-making machine.