Friday, July 16, 2010

In case you wondered ...

... Why Translation Matters.

1 comment:

  1. Some time ago I reviewed Grossman's "The Golden Age: Poets of the Spanish Renaissance" for the "San Francisco Chronicle" (here: ) To answer Griffin's final question, I wouldn't trust her with Spain's poetry, but she's supposed to be superb at its prose. Supposed to be... So many times the reputation continues in a bubble, unassailable after it's been touted by someone like Harold Bloom as the "Glenn Gould of translators," as Grossman has been.

    A lot of sloppy translations have been pushed forward by big name poets/translators counting on their reputations to boost classroom sales and royalties. They don't want to bother with the form of the original -- whether terza rima or trochaic tetrameter or villanelles -- and go for an easy "what the words say" approach, as if the form were separable from content.

    Then the collections are lazily introduced by someone famous, who dashes off an introduction between readings and workshops, with little research or insight into the poet or the period in which he or she lived. (I won't bother to name any more names -- I've done that in my reviews already.)

    It's too bad. We could use a few skillful translations of Lope de Vega or Jorge Manrique -- or even Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, who recently went through something of a vogue.

    Meanwhile, check out Rhina Espaillat's largely unheralded translations of Juan de la Cruz.