Fastness: A Translation from the English of Edmund Spenser

The Impact of Language on the Success of Translation in Trevor Joyce's Fastness College

The Irish poet Trevor Joyce, distant cousin of James Joyce, achieved the fifty-year benchmark of his career just in 2017 and celebrated with the publication of Fastness, a new rendering of Edmund Spenser’s Mutabilitie Cantos. While Joyce is no stranger to translation and has published notable works from Chinese and middle-Irish texts (Dorward, 83), his choice to subtitle Fastness as ‘A Translation from the English of Edmund Spenser’ immediately identifies this work to be of a different caliber. Joyce’s motivations for such an undertaking are many and varied – in his own words, Joyce notes that his selection of sources generally tends toward older texts ‘rancid with nostalgia’ and ‘almost fracturing already under the pressure of too much meaning,’ and the narrative of Mutabilitie qualifies in more ways than one (O’Mahony, 124). Furthermore, Joyce understands the effect of poems sourced from such texts to be embedded within language and traceable to a variety of other texts while also not reliant upon the recognition or recall of those texts (124). Thus, Fastness is an amalgam of both language and literature, operating at the local level of diction and syntax.

Joyce’s introduction to Fastness, in addition to providing a...

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