Women of Trachis. A Version by Ezra Pound.
Nevill Spearman, London, 1956. 1st ed. XXIII,66p. Frontispiece (portrait of Exra Pound, 1954, by La Martinelli. Original red cloth with dust wrps. Dust wrps slightly yellowed and to front with two small tears. Nice copy. Contents: Forword (DENIS GOACHER, pp.I-VII); Ezra Pund's translation of Sophokles (S.V. JANKOVSKI, pp.XIII-XXIII), Women of Trachis (pp.1-54); cast of first B.B.C.'s Third Programme performing (p.55); Editorial declaration (RICCARDO M. DEGLI UBERTI, pp.56-66). 'His Sophokles is an artistic achievement, a conscious breach with the old, unsatisfactory method; not an academic test of knowledge. Most scholars and lovers of Greek agree that Greek cannot and should not be translated into english literally. The most distinguished of them, Professor Gilbert Murray, expressly states this to be the reason for his having often used what he calls a more elaborate diction than Euripides did; by deciding, however, to get away from t=what he regarded as the baldness and simplicity of the original, he stripped the 'Trachiniae' of its classical adequacy and oladed it with ornament. He thus eliminated the directness of the dialogue as untranslatable. Pound approaced the same problem in a different way; he undertook the work with the assumption and firm belief that directness of speech is everything that matters. He made his version as hard as hard and direct as it could be. He made it ... nearer the bone; while, at the same time, it would be impossible to detect a note of baldness or monotony in his style. (...0 If (...) we accept Ezra Pound's view that a play of Sophokles can become known and appreciated onluy after a surgical operation has been done to it for the purpose of bringing about its rejuvenation, we must make allowance for the translator's initiative in linkint the idiomatic speech of the Sophoklean area with that of the twentieth century. pound does that linking of two eras with incomparable resourcefulness and mastery. (...) The chorus, as recreated by Pound, should not be analysed in the light of the Greek text whose metrical schemes are different; moreover, the music and dance which accompanied the Greek chorus are and will always remain a matter of conjecture. (...) The declamation or singing of the chorus should, no doubt, also in a modern theatre impress the audience with its awesome grandeur. (...) Pound.s choruses are a creation of his own, both in language and in rhythm, and he has obviously conceived a musical scheme to harmonize with his own verse. (...) The chorus, technically speaking, constitutes that element of the drama wherein the translator can enjoy a much greater freedom of composition than he is allowd in dealing with the dialogue of the performing characters. It is significant that the beauty of Pound's choral verse lies in its poetic independence. The author of that verse is even more master of his own genius than in the dialogue, where, as a translator, he is restricted by the sense of the story. The lines, recited by the chorus, are a matter of poetic fascination; the significance of the dialogue lies in its argument. The dialogue, the duel of words, is the essence of the translation just as it is the essence of the drama; but, the chorus, in Pound's interpretation, will, apart from its dramatic quality, remain a contribution to poetry of the most exalted kind. (...) To the pupils and followers of Pound this is an event of unprecedented cultural value.'(S.V. JANKOWSKI, IN 'Translation of Sophokles, pp.XIII-XXIII). From the library of the late Professor Doktor Nikolaus Himmelmann.