[W]hat then, would become of it — this context — if transferred? — if translated? Would it not rather be traduit (traduced) which is the French synonyme, or overzezet (turned topsy-turvy) which is the Dutch one? 1
“How do supports of writing — a book or a single piece of paper, pencils, typewriters or internet pages — work on our thoughts? How do ‘chance supports’ (a train ticket, the back of an envelope, the margin of a book) challenge common ideas and practices of archiving, binding, displaying, reproducing, translation?”
With Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield, Nick Thurston we contributed artist talks and performative readings, adding to the rich collection of material (books, references, ideas) that Kristien had brought together. It was a welcome opportunity to revisit many familiar themes, an occasion for a re-take of A Romance of Many Dimensions and a first try-out of Technical Writing.
- This is the last paragraph of a long quote from Edgar Allan Poe’s Preface to Marginalia on the webpage for Support de Fortune. I wondered about ‘overzezet‘, a word I’d never seen before. Was it a mistyping on the part of Kristien, a mistake in the OCR/digital edition, a typographic error in the original edition or a deliberate play on the Dutch ‘overgezet’ and the German ‘Übersetzung’?
Page 107 in the edition published by the Library of America (1984):
Of course, Poe scholars have written extensively on the subject:
Poe seems to move about among three languages with some ingenuity in advancing his thesis that notes often change their nature when organized into a set of Marginalia like these. He correctly derives “translated” from “transferred” (“ferro, ferre, tuli, lotus”); thence, he goes into “traduire” which is a synonym (spelled “synonyme” in 1849 and 1850) for the less common “translater” and ends up with the Dutch “overzezet” for “translated.” But there are a few things wrong: Poe did not know that at one time “traduce” meant “translate” in English, and retained this meaning in a somewhat affected style even throughout the 19th century (OED). The common meaning of “slander” or “destroy [the reputation of]” suited his purpose better — namely, to suggest the transformation in charm or meaning enjoined by the transfer. Second, “overzezet” is the wrong spelling for the form “overgezet.” TOM left Poe’s form in his text, with a corrective note (for which he was taken to task by J. Moldenhauer, PS, 1978, 11.44). But TOM’s feeling about keeping Poe’s form was correct although he was unaware of Poe’s true source (with the error), q.v. below. Third, Poe’s pun in his last parenthesis is utterly unfounded, for “overgezet” means “placed or seated over or across” as in “transferred.” In actual fact, it was commonly used for “ferried” and not for its German cognate; “translated” then and now was commonly a different word.
Note on the use of ‘overzezet’ in: Burton R. Pollin (and E. A. Poe), “Marginalia – part 01,” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: The Brevities (1985), pp. 1-107 http://www.eapoe.org/works/pollin/brp20401.htm