Life and Letters of Edmund Clarence Stedman

Life and Letters of Edmund Clarence Stedman

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Life and Letters of Edmund Clarence Stedman

Life and Letters of Edmund Clarence Stedman

Read FREE!

Excerpt

One who influences public feeling or opinion learns how prone to misrepresent are they who speak for him. Even with the best intention none may repeat another's view except in the precise words used by him; and the greater the man and the more efficient his conscience, the more pronounced will be the ill effect of inaccurate translation. Of this my Grandfather was convinced early in life, so that, when his opinion was sought by reporters, friends, or assistants, it became habitual with him to reiterate: "Do not paraphrase! Use my words!" And, as a rule, he insured the desired correctness by writing out the words he wished them to use.

The injunction, "Do not paraphrase," he particularly laid upon those who might serve him in a biographic way.

"Traduttore traditore" may apply, therefore, quite as well to biography as to translation. This is suggested by Mr. Stedman's saying, "There can be no real biography when the real actor is banished from the scene." But when the actor is a poet and thinker his biography consists almost entirely of his own writings, and hence, if these are preserved, he cannot be "banished" even by death.

It was thus made clear that the materials, at least, for a biography should have been in great part written by Mr. Stedman himself. The law of copyright immediately warned, because his books, and especially their splendidly illuminating Prefaces, Introductions, etc., had a personal and biographic significance, and were the well thought out and accurately worded reports of many of his most cherished intellectual conclusions. An examination of the thousands of letters, papers, and data left by Mr. Stedman gave assurance that an autobiographic biography was possible. He . . .

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