10 dic. 2007

The Rolfe Humphries 1953 translation of The Gypsy Ballads of García Lorca, published by Indiana University Press, is not a bilingual edition. This is much less excusable because of the date: the reader probably didn't have easy access to the Spanish original or an alternate translation. Humphries says his translation is in blank verse, but it is not. There is not an iambic pentameter line to be had. I think he means simply unrhymed, because he goes on to say that he throws in a random rhyme whenever he feels like it.

I'm glad to have this book as part of the record of Lorca's reception in the US, but it inspires in me violent thoughts toward the translator. Turning something wonderful into something grotesque, and not even doing it out of disrespect, but out of a total lack of self-awareness...

8 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

The specific meaning of "blank verse" is definitely being lost. And it's sad when poets and translators themselves no longer seem to know what it means.

Jonathan dijo...

This was fifty years ago, so instead of the meaning of "blank verse" being lost now, I hypothesize that it could have meant simply unrhymed at one point--or been used like that more often--before its definition got narrowed to mean unrhymed iambic pentameter only.

Either that or the guy's an idiot.

Andrew Shields dijo...

Well, I just did some searching, and pretty much every definition I found said "unrhymed lines in a regular meter", with only some adding "especially iambic pentameter." So maybe what I have always learned (blank verse = unrhymed iambic pentameter) is only one example (and that might be a specification that is quite recent).

Matt dijo...

Have you read his translations of Ovid? I'm not a scholar on these things, but I think Humphries' Metamorphoses is the best I've seen.

Jonathan dijo...

Humprhies' Ovid is reputed to be very good. That doesn't make his Lorca any better.

Elliot dijo...

Yes, his Metamorphoses is great. It's one of the few translations of Latin I've seen that really try to replicate the possibilities in word order that make Roman poetry so yummy.

It was the only thing I new about Humphries, which made this post startling.

Mark Statman dijo...

To add to all this:
Humphries knowledge of Spanish was minimal and he was relying on a lot of his knowledge of latin and some friendly help. By the way, Spender's Spanish wasn't much better. Poet in New York is published in English as a single text (which is what the family and Lorca believed it to be, in English, before it is published in Spanish)

As far as bi-lingual editions, there has always been a problem post 1936 with working with the heirs, who have been very protective of the rights and the translations--Nocturno del Hueco in the new edition of Poet in NY (Grove 2008) is not to their pleasing, but we made the case for it and they went along.

Post Poet in NY you have the Llanto and Divan when it comes to poetry, and then the plays. Here is the question of Lorca's own sense of duende, where is it now? If Poet in New York is the pinnacle (and it is), then....

The translators of Lorca have always had a rough time. Lorca made it hard, with his record of non-publishing but announcing big plans, and the family has not made it easier. Maybe Mistral has had it worse (but here Jonathan and I so disagree it may not be worth even getting started...)

Jonathan dijo...

Spender translated with Gili, a Catalan whom I know very little about. See my post today (Dec. 15) on some of Spender's problems.

Don't forget the Sonnets either. The Lorca family didn't let those out of the closet for years and years...