All that Is Solid… Is Maybe Not So Solid: The Repercussions of a Translation

The other day I was writing about a book that made use of the famous phrase from The Communist Manifesto “all that is solid melts into air,” and I thought to look up the original German, which is “Alles Ständische und Stehende verdampft.” It struck me immediately that the conventional translation of this line is a bit paltry. There is an obvious play here in “Ständische und Stehende.” What is being evoked is not “solidity,” but rather “standing,” as in social standing.[1] But that is not its only connotation: in German (as in English or Latin) “standing” is inflected with Read more

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