Sappho: Poems and Fragments
Anne Carson's Translations of Sappho: A Dialogue with the Past? College
‘I started getting interested in the language, in trying to get through the opaque screen that a translation can’t help being to see what Seneca had actually said’ (CARYL CHURCHILL on her translation of Thyestes).
Translations of a text that has been present for millennia encounter the problem of missing portions and incomplete manuscripts: translators encounter a degradation of the actual physical text as well as a loss of meaning imbued only by specific historical context. The ‘opaque screen’ that stands between a modern translator and their classical text could consist of the language barrier, the weight and influence of previous translations, or this factor, the degradation of time leading to a literally incomplete text. The purpose of a text could be entirely misunderstood through these obstacles, but they also may create incidental meaning or poignancy to a text, which a translator may choose to emphasise.
Anne Carson’s 2003 collection of translations, If not, winter, is titled after line 6 of fragment 22, and this title conveys her priorities within the actual poems: technical accuracy to the Greek words takes precedence over making comprehensible sense in English, but this technique still succeeds in creating semantic...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 1335 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 9977 literature essays, 2512 sample college application essays, 474 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in