St. Ignatius of Loyola
THE present translation of the Exercises ofSt. Ignatius has been made from the Spanish Autograph of Sl Ignatius. The copy so designated is not indeed in the handwriting of the Saint, but has a good number of corrections made by him and is known to have been used by him in giving the Exercises.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was a man without any great pretensions to education at the time he wrote this book. His native language was not Spanish, but Basque. His lack of education and his imperfect acquaintance with puré Spanish are enough to make it clear that a refined use of any language, and more especially of the Spanish, or, in general, anything like a finished or even perfectly correct, style is not to be expected in his work. Literary defects he removed to some extern, perhaps, as he continued to use and apply the book, but he is known never to have been fearful of such faults. His corrections found in this text are clearly made with a view to precisión more than to anything else.
The Autograph of St. Ignatius was translated by Father General Roothaan into Latin and was reproduced by Father Rodeles in his edition of the Spanish text. But the original was not available to ordinary students. In 1908, however, Father General Wernz allowed the entire book to be phototyped, and in this way it was spread throughout the Society of Jesús in a large number of copies. It is one of these which has been chiefly employed by the present translator, who has, besides, made frequent use of the Manuscript itself.
After considerable study of the niatter, it seemed best to make this translation as faithful and cióse a reproduction of the Spanish text as could be. To do so it was necessary at times to sacrifice the niceties of style, but it was thought that those who would use the book would easily forego the elegancies of diction if they could feel sure they were reading the very words of St Ignatius. Any other form of translation than the one adopted could hardly be kept from being a partial expansión, illustration or development of the original, and would therefore have proved, to some extent, a commentar)’ as well as a translation. This the translator has earnestly sought to avoid, preferring to leave the further work of commentary to another occasion or to other hands.
Another reason for aiming at absolute fidelity rather than style was the fact that the Exercises are mostly read, not continuously for any time, but piecemeal and meditatively. Literary finish would therefore not be much sought or cared for in the book, but accuracy is. For this a certain neglect of style seemed pardonable in the translation, if only the real meaning of the writer could be made clear. Perhaps some may even find a charm in the consequent want of finish, seeing it reproduces more completely the style of St. Ignatius.
The process of translating in this way the Autograph text is not as simple as it might seem. The first difíiculty is to make sure of the exact meaning of Sl Ignatius. This is obscured, at times, by his language being that of nearly 400 years ago and being not puré Spanish.