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This review is taken from PN Review 163, Volume 31 Number 5, May - June 2005.

A UNIFIED VOICE GABRIEL FERRATER, Women and Days, translated by Arthur Terry (Arc) £6.95

Gabriel Ferrater's Women and Days is the thirteenth volume in Arc's 'Visible Poets' translation series. It is translated from the Catalan by Arthur Terry and introduced by Seamus Heaney. Terry was a Professor of Spanish at Queen's University, Belfast, and presented some of these translations at Philip Hobsbaum's 'Group' at Queen's while Heaney was a member. Heaney remembers Terry as a 'combination of alertness to our work and advocacy of the work of others'. Thus the translations of this, a single published volume of Ferrater's, rather than a Selected, have been mulled over for a long time. And it shows; there is a unified voice to these translations, which seems delicately responsive and nuanced, rather than the slightly muffled feeling that one can get from so much translation. Mention also needs to be made of the fact that Ferrater studied mathematics and was a teacher of linguistics; he committed suicide in 1972 at the age of forty-nine. The volume begins with an expansive narrative of the Spanish Civil War and moves on to densely taut lyrics at the end of the book. It explores the repertoires of the language in a way that suggests that Ferrater realised the obligations the poet might have to 'road-test' a 'minority' language like Catalan.

As Heaney says, there is an iambic cadence to many of these texts, which goes some way to replacing the clotted consonantal nature of the Catalan text to which Terry draws ...

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