Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Icy perfection …

… Osip Mandelstam’s Selected Poems, Translated by Alistair Noon | Friday Pick | B O D Y. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Translators of Mandelstam tread on thin ice: any false step creates cracks. Noon’s method for avoiding this is to preserve the formal features of the poems rather than finding the exact corresponding expression. This does not mean that Noon’s translations are not precise. On the contrary, they are very precise, but in their own specific way. In most cases, Noon preserves the rhyme and the rhythm of the originals, but he himself is a poet, and often it seems that his own poetic sensibility stands behind certain choices. A translator is always an active interpreter of the poet translated.

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