Synopses & Reviews
Poetry is often said to resist translation, its integration of form and meaning rendering even the best translations problematic. Elizabeth Marie Young disagrees, and with Translation as Muse
, she uses the work of the celebrated Roman poet Catullus to mount a powerful argument that translation can be an engine of poetic invention.
Catullus has long been admired as a poet, but his efforts as a translator have been largely ignored. Young reveals how essential translation is to his work: many poems by Catullus that we tend to label as lyric originals were in fact shaped by Roman translation practices entirely different from our own. By rereading Catullus through the lens of translation, Young exposes new layers of ingenuity in Latin poetry even as she illuminates the idiosyncrasies of Roman translation practice, reconfigures our understanding of translation history, and questions basic assumptions about lyric poetry itself.
“Translation as Muse offers a coherent and stimulating reading of Catullus’s oeuvre. A major strength of the study lies in its readings of individual poems, and Young proves herself a fine literary critic. This book is a valuable contribution to the study of Catullus and of Roman Hellenism.”
“Translation as Muse presents a new theoretical model of Roman translation practice in which drastic alteration of the original in an attempt to outdo it (aemulatio) is the motive force behind literary creation. Tracing Catullus’s part in culturally appropriating the Greek past through radical revision of his source texts, Young produces provocative metapoetic readings of familiar works. Critics should welcome this volume as a major contribution to both Catullan scholarship and translation studies.”
The most popular of the Roman poets, Catullus is known for the accessibility of his witty and erotic love poems. In this book Charles Martin, himself a poet, offers a deeper reading of Catullus, revealing the art and intelligence behind the seemingly spontaneous verse. Martin considers Catullus's life, habits of composition, and the circumstances in which he worked. He places him among the modernists of his age, who created a new ironic and subjective poetics, and he shows the affinity between Catullus and the modernists of our own age. Martin offers original interpretations of Catullus's poems, viewing the love poems to "Lesbia" as a unified, artfully arranged poetic sequence, and the short poems, often dismissed as unworthy of serious critical attention, as the irreverent products of a sophisticated poetic innovator. Unlike Horace, Virgil, and Ovid, Catullus did not influence our literary culture until the beginning of the modern era, but he is now regarded as a poet who speaks to our age with a singular directness. Pointing to Catullus's self-awareness, playfulness, and comic invention and to the elaborate complexity of his experiments in poetic form, Martin gives both the scholar and the general reader a fresh appreciation of his poetic art.
Catullus (Gaius Valerius Catullus, 85-55 BC), Roman poet, author of witty and erotic love poems. A historical, biographical, and literary study. Hermes series on classical authors.
Poetry is often understood as a form that resists translation. Translation as Muse questions this truism, arguing for translation as a defining condition of Catulluss poetry and for this aggressively marginal poets centrality to comprehending cultural transformation in first-century Rome. Young approaches translation from several different angles including the translation of texts, the translation of genres, and translatio in the form of the pan-Mediterranean transport of people, goods, and poems. Throughout, she contextualizes Catulluss corpus within the cultural foment of Romes first-century imperial expansion, viewing his work as emerging from the massive geopolitical shifts that marked the era. Young proposes that reading Catullus through a translation framework offers a number of significant rewards: it illuminates major trends in late Republican culture, it reconfigures our understanding of translation history, and it calls into question some basic assumptions about lyric poetry, the genre most closely associated with Catulluss eclectic oeuvre.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 191-192) and index.
About the Author
Elizabeth Marie Young is assistant professor of classical studies and the Knafel Assistant Professor of Humanities at Wellesley College, where she also teaches in the comparative literature program.
Table of Contents
Introduction Finding Catullus in Translation
1 The Task of Translation in Catullus
2 Excavating the Poetic Emporium: Material and Cultural Capital in the Polymetrics
3 Catullus 4 and the Demographics of Late Republican Alexandrianism
4 Intimate Acts of Reading: Imitation and Self-Expression in the Translation Prefaces (50 and 65)
5 Constructing Callimachus
6 Surpassing the Gods: Infatuation and Agonism in Catullus’ Sappho (51)
Epilogue Toward a Poetics of Lyric Appropriation