Thursday, 4 February 2010

translations side by side

Jon Evans just sent me a very nice link to multiple translations of Basho's 'frog haiku', and it set me thinking about the good, wholesome fun that is comparing different translations of the same text. A quick search came up, inevitably, with a lot of poetry - short, pithy, difficult to translate and so very rewarding for this kind of exercise. On the same site as the Basho are many versions of Baudelaire's 'Le Balcon'. Baudelaire is, predictably, popular - but how to predict Spleen: thirty-one translations of the Baudelaire poem, all by the same translator, Nicholas Moore, with an added bonus of a provocative reflection on the impossibility of translation? Hurrah for There is a pleasing downloadable MIT Opencourseware course on reading poetry in translation with links to lots of alternative translations. This leads to Sappho, and then by circuitous routes to eyebrow-raising versions of Chunwang. As a bit of light relief, I also came across several fizzy and fun translations of Horace's Ode 1.22 by Franklin P. Adams.

Literally side-by-side are these ingenious parallel translations in frames of Noh plays. Forget eyebrow-raising, the comparison between the opening scenes of Waley's and Pound's versions of Aoi No Uye is eye-watering. Not for the first time, I wish I read Japanese to understand what's going on there.

Anyone out there have links to amusing side-by-side translations?

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