Friday ‘Translators’ Café
Don’t miss this week’s ‘Translators‘ Café!
Much has been written about translators and what makes their work effective (including this New Yorker article by Daniel Mendelsohn). Do you have a favorite translator?
Before I read the Iliad for the first time, I had been reluctant to grapple with such a lengthy and archaic poem. So to make the job less daunting, I chose the translation by E.V. Rieu because it was said to be smooth and flowing. I wondered if other translators would alter my perfect Iliad experience by changing nuances, mood and so on, so I tried Richmond Latttimore’s translation, followed by Fagles’. I found both not only readable but enjoyable once I adapted to their style. But if I’m going to slow-read a passage, I much prefer the Butler/Nagy version of the Iliad and Odyssey. With their literal-leaning translations and the timely insertion of Greek transliterations, these works really lend themselves to a slow, contemplative read. Among the advantages of this translation is that it gives the slow reader a clearer view of the poems’ magnificent architecture–something I had been largely blind to before HeroesX.
Your turn now. Let’s hear which translators you prefer, and why. What makes a translation work for you? What turns you off?