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It was hoped that publishers who were minded to issue inexpensive series of foreign works in translation would find valuable hints in such a compila- tion ; and it was expected that translators would consult it to find out what had not yet been translated into English, or at any rate not adequately.
There is, it must be admitted, some- thing anomalous about an uncritical bibliography of any kind, but perhaps more so in the case of translations : it is surely not feasible to expect each reader to compare version and original for himself, yet unless we know how they stand to each other, the version is useless for any serious purpose.
It was hoped to do this much for nearly all the interesting or important trans- lations that should be encountered.
In other cases, originals would not be accessible in the same libraries as the translations.
Such guidance has been conspicuously absent until of late years, and in view of that fact we need not be surprised at the vogue of Anster's translation of Faust, and Scott's ver- sion of Gdf2 von Bcrlichingen, or at the inclusion of Margaret Armour's faulty rendering of the Nihelungenlicd in Every- man's Library, which had half a dozen better ones to choose from.
The compiler was not so ill advised as to expect that he could pass a really thorough-going critical judgment on all the matter to be included in the book.
In the second place, if the reader or student please, he may regard the judgments here given as thrown in for good measure, and as perhaps paving the way for other detailed treatments of special fields, such as Baumann's of Faust (see Bi) or Long's Wcrther (B13) — both, by the way, models of what such studies should be.
After mature deliberation, it was decided to employ three diacritical marks to indicate the quality of translations, sup- plementing by comment in certain cases. It does not mean perfection, which is no more often attained in translation than in other fields of human endeavor, but implies that a reader may safely take a version so marked as a reasonably satisfactory rendering of the original.