Attempted rambling refinement of my thoughts on Waldrop/Dryden:
"One does not translate words" strikes me as patently false. Words are the smallest stand-alone units of meaning, and are what everyone writes in. How could translation be any different? After all, I wrote mine word-by-word. It is by no means a negligible unit of meaning, but must be kept in mind. Mindfulness of broader sense is important too, but I think it's a mistake to suborn one to the other. The sentence as unit-of-meaning seems like some step towards this, a compromise between higher-level meaning and what one's author actually wrote, what the text is as written.
And as for his other views, It seems to me that what is meant by '"The smallest unit of prose that can be thought of as translatable is the sentence and it is not incorrect, at most an exaggeration, to say that the real unit is the entire text." (Waldrop 100) While this seems holistic and unhelpful at times "OK, so how does that help me with this one clause," it seems to be a fallout from a higher principle, that meaning is encoded on multiple levels, and that one must make judgment calls where appropriate. But the author built up text-level meaning from...well, individual words.
My main principle, if I had to elaborate it, in dealing with Fuks was "look to the author above yourself, except where forced otherwise, for you're not as clever as you think you are." I guess it's easier to render as "Trust the author." Perhaps this is only valid due to my experiences with a sparse yet rigid structure, and with sentences lending themselves to literal translation. But if he could build meaning and sense that way in Czech, I don't see the need to dick around with it in English.
In any event, I'm sure I fucked up my share of things. It's certainly a very personal, and, quite simply, a ridiculous endeavor. *shrugs* It keeps everyone else from having to learn Czech, and, as it's not the original and never will be, perhaps it must hint at compromises made and sense lost. We wouldn't want to make the language obsolete.
And as for the ridiculous,
"In an attempt to make a prose version of one of the poems, I somehow tricked myself into making versets. It seemed, when I realized what I was doing, a ridiculous thing, but what is a little flirt with the ridiculous, compared with the immense impossibility of translating any literary text? " (105)
That I understand. Damned necessary enemies. Now I have to find more of his stuff.