The Knox Version, or the Trials of a Translator: Translation or Transgression?
In the work of Ronald Knox, translation is the link between the man of wit and the spiritual writer. It is often a literary exercise associated with parody and pastiche,1 but in his translation of the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Lisieux,2 and in the translation of the Bible3 which he undertook at the request of the Hierarchy, it becomes religious meditation. The Catholic Rheims-Douay Version of the Bible4 and the Authorised Version, among others, were the result of teamwork. But, like Challoner’s revision, Knox’s translation was a one-man performance. One cannot but recognise the boldness, indeed the rashness, of such an undertaking as one thinks of all the great translations of the past that had been the combined work of whole teams of exegetes. But Knox, who had always needed encouragement in the writing of his other books, laboured at this monumental task with obstinate determination for more than fifteen years. Father Martindale SJ, although he never had any doubts about his friend Ronald’s competence and literary talent, was the first to show surprise that Knox should have undertaken such an exploit.
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- 1.In Three Tongues, ed. L. E. Eyres (London, 1959).Google Scholar
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