Thursday, May 20, 2004

Skimming Homer and making a choice (or two)

So I went to the bookstore for my writer's group meeting and spent some time picking out the "Iliad" edition to read. I liked the suggestion of simply reading through and seeing which version grabbed you. Or which one didn't. I pulled off the shelf the Fagles, Fitzgerald, Lattimore and Lombardo editions. I compared the openings of all four. The difference is quite startling. I was really surprised at how radically different the approaches to the translations could be. I'm almost surprised there haven't been more controversies over the translations. Some focus on the anger and rage, whereas others are singing hymns to goddesses. The Lombardo was a little too contemporary for my tastes. I skimmed later in, finding myself reading about Zeus replying to some character "My heart isn't in it". For some reason, it felt wrong. It seems too modern an utterance. I can't quite explain why. And Fitzgerald was in the other direction, almost too flowery and old-fashioned. The Lattimore did seem have a more authentic feel, while Fagles was easy to understand. We'll see how this goes.


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