new world coverI’m posting this again because, when I linked to it before, a few weeks ago, there was an error in the link (I only recently discovered that — I’ll try to get it right this time). This is the introduction to my book on literary translation from the Center for the Art of Translation (link below). The final stages of proofing have really been dragging on, but it’s beginning to seem the book will finally appear before too long. I think the essay isn’t too bad; I’m hoping it might pick up a link from somewhere. Here’s the opening:

In the Popul Vuh, one of the handful of Mayan texts to escape the auto-da-fé of the Spanish missionaries of the sixteenth century, the story is told that the first people who had speech sufficient to praise the gods were made of maize. Their language was the language of the gods themselves. When those first people gazed into the distance, they could see clear to the edge of the world and the end of time. But the perfection of the people of maize alarmed the gods, especially when they began to multiply and overrun the earth. Their perfect speech was withdrawn, and instead each group was endowed with its own language.

So we live in a broken world, the world of Babel. Our world is broken, because our language has been shattered into thousands of fragments. Words are no longer the perfect, transparent embodiment of things themselves but instead are mere pointers, signs by which we grope to know the world from multiple viewpoints….

LINK: New World / New Words