Letter to the Committee of the Library of Classics of Philosophy written 01.04.1955

Prof. Roman Ingarden                 c                                    c              c               Krakow, 4/1/1955


   c      The Editorial Committee of the Library of the Classics of Philosophy
      c              c              c              c              c              c       in WARSAW


    c    Given all other tasks entrusted to me by the Editorial Committee, I could not substantively examine prof. Dąmbska’s translation (“Conversation with Burman”) and the corrections made by prof. Legowicz. However, I reviewed them and, therefore, I have a number of comments and questions I would like to submit to the Editorial Committee.

    c    1. If the Editorial Committee would like me to carefully check the translation and the proposed corrections and express my opinion in detail, then I would have to ask for a/ a clean typescript of prof. Dąmbska’s translation, b/ a commission for rewriting of the translation with corrections by prof. Legowicz and for sending me this copy together with the original from prof. Legowicz. In that case I would send said original for rewriting.
    c    2. I am not sure what my role in this matter should be. Is it, as it would seem from the prof. Legowicz’s letter of, only to influence prof. Dąmbska, so that she does not react too strongly to such far-reaching changes in her translation, or to judge in each individual case who is right: the translator or the editor. If the latter were to be my task, I do not know if it would be appropriate, as maybe then my decision would have to be given to yet someone else to consider and the issue would drag on forever. In view of the gravity of the corrections made, the issue is not, in my opinion, the matter of such or other emotions of the author of the translation, but instead a legal matter that should be considered by the Committee.
    c    3. Here is how I see this case:
    c            a / the task of the editor or proofreader is to detect translation errors, whether in terms of substance, i.e. incompatibility of the content of the translation with the source text, or consisting in changing the literary character of the original, or finally stylistic and grammatical mistakes of the language used in the translation. In addition, their task is to justify that the errors pointed out by the editor are indeed errors. This task is not about giving positive suggestions, as to in what way these errors should be fixed according to the editor, and it is not about crating a new translation using the translation provided to the Committee. I get the impression that the Committee’s problems with various translations and their editing consist precisely in the fact that editors or proofreaders tend to overstep their competences and want to write a new translation themselves.
    c            b / I think that if a list pointing out errors and their justification is delivered to the author of the translation and they make appropriate corrections according to their own knowledge /if they agree with the mistakes pointed out by the proofreader/, the Committee may print the translation with these corrections. If the author of the translation rejects the complaints about the text and does not agree to change their translation, and the Committee comes to the conviction that the editor or proofreader is correct, then the Committee has the right under the contract not to print the provided translation and may request translation from a new translator, but without providing them the rejected version. This new translator can then enter into a new contract and so on.
    c            c / If the changes proposed by the editor or the proofreader are as radical and as numerous as in the translation of the Conversation with Burman delivered to me, it is nothing more than a new translation based off of the old translation. The Editorial Committee has no right, I believe, to require the author of the old translation to agree to publish this new translation under their name, and there are no legal means to force them to do so. They can only reject the old translation, and print the new one with the provision that if the new translator used the rejected translation, they are obligated to point out what they took from the rejected version. It would be an extremely troublesome task. Therefore, I think, new translations should not be entrusted to people who in the course of their work duties got acquainted with the rejected translations as editors or proofreaders.
    c            Of course, on can also translate “as a team” involving a number of people who eventually agree on the final form of the text among themselves and as a team take responsibility for it. But in that case it must be known in advance to all parties involved and the contract must be concluded with the entire team.
    c            For the time being these are my formal comments on the case of the translation of Conversation with Burman. Since this is not the first such matter, but rather it has been happening repeatedly, I dared to clarify my view on this matter and I would be very happy if the Presidium of the Editorial Committee, or the whole Committee would be willing to consider my position and in general decide something with regards to this, to adopt such or another way to proceed in the future.

    c            Please kindly let me know if I should send in the corrected text of Conversation with Burman so it can be rewritten. At the same time, I am asking you to kindly specify the task the Editorial Committee is entrusting me with in this matter.



    c    Roman Ingarden
/prof. Roman Ingarden Sr./