Friday, June 8, 2018

Kearley's "Lost in Translations"

Timothy G. Kearley, Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Wyoming College of Law, has published Lost in Translations: Roman Law Scholarship and Translation in Early Twentieth-Century America, in the Legal History Series (edited by Duke Law’s H. Jefferson Powell) of the Carolina Academic Press:
Earlier generations of Americans were connected to the classical past—to ancient Greece and Rome—to an extent we find hard to understand today. The Founders’ training in Latin and ancient history led them to model their new nation after the Roman Republic, and most educated Americans had broadly similar skills and knowledge until the early twentieth century.  Lost in Translations describes how this connection helped inspire men who were educated in the late 1800s to dedicate much of their lives to translating fundamental documents of Western Civilization—such as Justinian’s Code—and to write extensively about Roman law. This book addresses the history of American education (including legal education), as well as the function of Roman law among the elite bar. The book also uses correspondence and other previously unpublished information to humanize such major figures as Roscoe Pound.

Lost in Translations
focuses on five Roman law scholars (all but one of whom were trained as lawyers) who worked early in the twentieth century: Samuel Parsons Scott (1846–1929), Charles Sumner Lobingier (1866–1956), Charles Phineas Sherman (1874–1962), Fred H. Blume (1875–1971), and Clyde Pharr (1883–1972). Among them, they produced the first English translations of the Codex Theodosianus and Justinian’s entire Corpus Juris Civilis, as well as other ancient Roman laws. This book describes their heroic and often solitary labor, some of which they did not see come to fruition in their own lifetimes. It should be of interest to historians, lawyers, educators, and classicists.

1 comment:

Shag from Brookline said...

Translating from one language to another involves interpretation. With respect to translations of Roman laws, are principles of originalism (of whichever version) called for? Translators may have biases, as do most of us, that may be difficult to overcome.

I have long been amused with translations of poetry into English with rhymes, wondering if there is a commonality of the original foreign rhyming words with the words in the English translation that rhyme, taking into consideration the significant differences in most languages. Translator's poetic license?