Arline shared this interview with Caroline Alexander, whose new translation of the Iliad recently was released to high expectations, including her own:
“I know this sounds arrogant,” Ms. Alexander said, but she couldn’t imagine taking on the project “unless you believed you could do a better job.” She spent five years on her translation. Her goal is for her version to become the “translation of record.”Alexander's discussion of her decisions in this translation are worth reading. Some have to do with diction (lexis):
I worked hard for restraint, and my mantra was “trust Homer, trust Homer.” I knew that if I could find the simple English word for his simple Greek, work for cadence—spoken cadence, not the cadence of “high” poetry—it would work.Asked about a recent Hollywood treatment featuring Brad Pitt, she moves to another level of the work of the translator -- this not so much on the lexical level as on the level of thought (logos):
I didn’t watch the whole film. But I did see his first big kill in the opening 10 minutes. A stunning bit of stunt-work, very athletic and adroit, and totally un-Achillean. It implied that Achilles’ greatness as a warrior lay in his skill. Having just finished working on a documentary about tigers, I would venture that confronting Achilles would be more like coming face-to-face with a tiger than with a tricky swordsman.This too is reading -- translating lived experience and that of the poem into a new vernacular of living images.