Winter 1962 • Vol. XXIV No. 1 Department KR: A Section of Briefer CommentJanuary 1, 1962 |

Comment

As it was I who commissioned a translation of Phèdre from Robert Lowell, I should like to comment on George Steiner's unfavorable review of it (Autumn 1961). This review seems not to take cognizance of the fact that Racine is "untranslatable," much less of the fact that Mr. Lowell says so in his preface. Homer, on the other hand, had been very presentably translated several times before Mr. Fitzgerald touched him. Homer is splendidly effective even in colloquial prose—at least when the prose is that of Samuel Butler. Racine, on the other hand, is helplessly ineffective in a great many English translations I have read, both published and unpublished. The moral could be: Let him alone. But is it not more interesting to see what can be done? The reviewers (not only Mr. Steiner) are saying this text is Lowell, not Racine, but Phaedra differs a good deal from the rest of Lowell's works, and it is hard to believe that Racine is not responsible for some of the differences. The compariso

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Comment

By Eric Bentley

As it was I who commissioned a translation of Phèdre from Robert Lowell, I should like to comment on George Steiner's unfavorable review of it (Autumn 1961). This review seems […]

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