Monday, October 30, 2006

Lost and Found In Translation

Nothing wakes up a dusty old tome like a good translation -- suddenly an ancient book that seemed creaky and obtuse wakes up and becomes lively and witty and fun. Certainly one of the most successful translators working today is Robert Fagles. His versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey were huge bestsellers and would surprise anyone bored by poor translations they might have slogged through in high school. Now he's tackled Virgil's Aeneid and the NYT has a profile. My personal favorite translator -- and I never imagined I would have one -- is Stephen Mitchell, who usually focuses on religious texts. His The Gospel According To Jesus, Tao Te Ching and The Book Of Job are three of my favorites.

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