A Translation Golden Age

March 23, 2009

John Timpane has an article on translation in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and even says we’re in a translation golden age. Wowza. Ties in with what Sara was saying below about translating the classics, and my overly lengthy response to that post. Ties in because this Inquirer article is focused pretty much completely on new translations of classics.

It’s great to see the author’s enthusiasm for translation. Really great. Really, really great. I would though have liked to see some attention given to translations of recent authors who are not named Bolaño, or to translations of classic works that break with our own literature’s traditional understanding of the genre “translation.”

For instance, the article focuses quite a bit on Anne Carson’s Oresteia, which we talked about below (1, 2). I’ve read a little more of it since then (in the current Tin House – I’m not sure that this is the same version that’s getting performed), and I mean, hey, it’s good. It’s Anne Carson. And the idea of taking plays by three different authors and translating them as a coherent trilogy (!), that’s a pretty radical idea. I like it. A whole lot actually. But that’s not what gets talked about. What gets talked about is Carson’s translation on the level of the line (of poetry, of dialogue), which is, as far as I can tell not having read the whole thing yet, the most boring level of Anne Carson’s Oresteia. If you want to see Anne Carson really taking the translation of a classic to a new place on the level of the line, read her translations of Catullus in Men in the Off Hours.

But hey. Did I mention there was a nice article about translation in the Inquirer?

Mike S


One Response to “A Translation Golden Age”

  1. […] More of our discussions of Carson’s Oresteia here, here, and here. Posted by exchangesjournal Filed in International Literature Tagged: Aeschylus, Anne […]

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