Gombrich

'However hard it may often be to render the meaning of a sentence in another language, and however much we may have to resort to glosses and roundabout explanations, the sense can be made accessible even though it may entail a loss in neatness and elegance'. (Topics of Our Time: Twentieth Century Issues in Learning and in Art by E. H. Gombrich p.41; Phaidon, London, 1991.) Thus Gombrich, expressing his conviction that translation can always, even with difficulty ('a difficulty is never an impossibility') penetrate the cultural complexities of another language, from its colour system onwards. In fact, in this marvellous, instructive and morally outstanding book, in which he devotes four chapters to attacking what he calls 'cultural relativism', Gombrich goes further: 'Art and literature are now menaced by . . . this trend, which constitutes a threat to all aspects of scholarship because it denies the existence of any objective standards of truth . . . Recognising differences must not lead us to deny the unity of mankind . . . Art is an embodiment of values' (p. 9.) 'The humanities would atrophy and die if they attempted to become value-free' (p.55) . . . 'I am sure that Michelangelo was indeed a greater artist than the English seventeenthcentury painter John Streeter.' (p. 72.)

Gombrich names some of his adversaries (Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Harold Bloom, Norbert Bolz [Barthes, Greimas, Kristeva, Foucault unaccountably missing]), but not the so often trumpeted 'value free' movements: structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, reception theory, pop art, trends in post-modernism, historicism as relativism.) With rejection of or indifference to values, standards cannot exist.

Peter Newmark (1993) Paragraphs on Translation, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, pp. 164-165.