This prologue begins by considering the nature of translation, describing it as a means of recovering the past, of bringing the dead back to life, but what it recovers must remain forever incompletely known and understood. It then turns to the emergence of the systematic study of translation in the late 1960s. It argues that the study of translation is the study of textual voyages. Some of those voyages have led to extraordinary discoveries, for translation has so often been a force for innovation and renewal; other voyages have been journeys of rescue, ensuring the salvation of abandoned or lost works, while others have been transformative and life-enhancing.
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