Writers and poets who turn to translation may do so more out of self-interest than a sense of indebtedness, and the emphasis on translation as playful homage, among the permanent debts to modernism, along with the gradual disappearance of the institutional study of foreign languages, has collapsed the distinction between the original and the rendition. One of the liveliest contradictions in modernism is how it reasserted the value of the past and yet seemed willing to invest the responsibility for its preservation in poets, who are probably the least sensitive to any originality beyond their own.

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