Why was Bordiga's "Dialogue with the Dead" removed?

Submitted by kasama_libsoc on August 18, 2021

Libcom was kind of the only place to find this text and I was about to be interested to read it since I wanted to study up on Bordiga and left communism. The Internet Archive has a copy of the deleted page here but without the PDF.

Was the text particularly authoritarian which was why it was removed?


12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I could be wrong, but I think the publisher of that text deleted it because they didn't like their translation of it? For what it's worth I'd just go to Marxist Internet Archive to read Bordiga. I'm curious actually whether Bordiga used words like "idiot" and "scholastic masturbations" or whether that's a translator's doing. See here for example

"He would be joined by the famous anarchist scholar Elisée Reclus, and by the even more famous (total idiot) Gustave Hervé, [...]"

"Either we read history as Marxists, or we relapse into scholastic masturbations [...]"


12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Basically we don't know why it was removed. The person above is probably correct if they think it was removed by radical reprints, who posted it here originally.


11 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Speaking of Radical Reprints, Libri Incogniti take a very dim view of them, saying among other things that 'what we have here are people making a hustle out of selling poorly translated texts under the name of Bordiga'.

Never mind the 'making a hustle' allegation. The point is that a great many example of terrible translation are given.

See: https://libriincogniti.wordpress.com/2021/03/16/radical-reprints-the-wish-com-of-publishing


11 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Eh, the first examples of poor translation they give seem rather petty complaints that it differs from what they would translate it as if they got around to it. It actually exposes some lack of knowledge of English on their part.

Disregarding the poor grammar, the translators at Radical Reprints apparently do not know what a wet nurse is and choose to drop the word “wet” altogether. Which ordinary nurse gives her breast to new-borns? What’s more, a whole breast with them is reduced to a tit. This uneasy relationship with the fairer sex is a recurring theme throughout the translation. Displeased with the existence of breasts like prudish conservatives, they perform a mastectomy by banishing the word “bosom” whenever it comes up.

Wet nurse is increasingly archaic as the profession is increasingly rare. I know what a wet nurse is, but I also read a lot of historical accounts and period fiction. This is just petty, they're correct that not every nurse can be a wet nurse, but the passage is about mercantile relationships replacing natural relations, and many wet nurses were not nurses paid to preform that function, they were servants in other ways who fit the physical requirements at the time and were then compelled to also fulfil that duty.

Also "Displeased with the existence of breasts like prudish conservatives," is just a daft complaint, tit is much coarser than breast in English, with breast and bosom being the "dignified" ways to refer to them in polite conversation, if anything RRs translation does the exact opposite of what the ICP accuses them of here.

"“The vigorous shepherd can measure himself with the more agile armed with an ax, one of the two will remain master, for his consumption, of the lambs and the axes, since he does not know what to do with the adversary’s spoil.”

The “spoil” in this example would of course need to be either the lambs or the axes – but what sense does it make to say that the victor would not know what to do with that spoil, when its appropriation was the whole purpose of the battle in the first place? Exactly: none.

Oh come on, this is one of the oldest commentaries on the destructive power and influence of human interaction. Anyway more importantly they say this, "The Italian word used is “spoglia”, which although reading similar to “spoil” means… skin, or, translated more liberally, corpse. "

Spoil in English literally means rotting, and is closely associated with corpses. Spoglia doesn't just read similar to Spoil its the same in meaning. There's also the secondary meaning which associates spoils with the success of conquest. I think its a bad passage, but I doubt its supposed to be read literally, and it reads just like most Bordiga I've read from a dozenish different translators, including them.

Even worse, they translate “dipendenza” not straightforwardly as “dependence”, as it should be, but as “addiction”! Since they translated the word correctly in the immediately preceding quote from Capital, it seems like Radical Reprints barely attempted to follow the argument being made in the article, and instead let some translation engine do the work. To make matters worse, when the term later pops up again, they add to the confusion by continuing to alternate between “addiction” and “dependence”.

Addiction is a form of dependence in English, there is a close association with addiction to chemical dependence, but that is not absolute, and there is also a strong value judgement to the former over the latter, but I can't think of a scenario where using one over the other wouldn't be understood by an audience.

The rest of the complaints are either in this vein or are about errors in editorial checking. They even have one footnote which acknowledges that they don't always know what the original meaning of every paragraph was, but still passed judgement anyway.


11 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ultra-left translator beef is wild.


11 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

Best ultra-left translator beef was Paolo Salvadori vs the previous Italian translators of Society of the Spectacle, I can't see this living up to that standard.

There was nothing worse than the situation it Italy, however, where, as early as 1968, the publisher De Donato put out the most monstrous one of all, which has only been partially improved upon by the two rival translations that followed. Moreover, Paolo Salvadori, having gone to find those responsible for this excess in their offices, had hit them and had even literally spat in their faces, for such is naturally the way good translators act when they meet bad ones. It suffices to say that the fourth Italian translation, which is by Salvadori, is excellent.

Old mate Paolo didn't mess around.


11 months 3 weeks ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks for letting me know.