John Berger: ‘Writing is an off-shoot of something deeper’

I have been writing for about 80 years. First letters then poems and speeches, later stories and articles and books, now notes. The activity of writing has been a vital one for me; it helps me to make sense and continue. Writing, however, is an off-shoot of something deeper and more general – our relationship with language as such. And the subject of these few notes is language.

Let’s begin by examining the activity of translating from one language to another. Most translations today are technological, whereas I’m referring to literary translations: the translation of texts that concern individual experience.

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