Like cartooning, the act of translation has proven dangerous at times. For his role in putting Christian scriptures into English, John Wycliffe’s long-dead bones were dug up, burnt, and chucked into the river by order of churchmen.
… The act of translation itself entails certain claims about the nature of sacred literature. The vernacular, for instance, was once so scandalous that church authorities dug up John Wycliffe’s bones, four decades after his death, setting fire to his skeleton and dumping what was left of him into the River Swift to punish the memory of the man who wanted to make the Bible available in English.
(Casey Cep, “What We Can and Can’t Learn from a New Translation of the Gospels,” The New Yorker, 4-28-21)
The arc of demented piety is brow-furrowing and bends towards homicide. As an impertinent translator of Pablo Neruda I count it a blessing that he has a non-faith-based following.
(c) 2021 JMN