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This article is taken from PN Review 75, Volume 17 Number 1, September - October 1990.

An Age Ago or The Maturing Ego Daniel Weissbort

Remarks Occasioned by an invitation to write an eight-hundred word review of An Age Ago: A Selection of Nineteenth-Century Russian Poetry, Selected and Translated by Alan Myers. With a foreword and biographical notes by Joseph Brodsky (Penguin Books), with reference also to Translated! Papers on Literary Translation and Translation Studies, by James S Holmes (Rodopi, Amsterdam)

I SHOULD DISCLOSE the following. An age ago, it occurred to me, somewhat presumptuously, that the English-speaking world needed an anthology of 19th-century Russian poetry. I spoke to Joseph Brodsky about this, since he had always been generously willing to fill me in on the Russian scene. It would surely be too much to suppose that this perfectly obvious idea had not also occurred to him. But if so, he probably despaired of its ever being implemented - at least, to his taste - since here (in the United States and Britain) far too few translators shared his conviction with regard to the translation of formal verse, namely that, if possible, the identical rhyme and metre should be preserved ('homological' rather than 'analogical' correspondence), and that it nearly always was possible, the only obstacle being the perversity, not to say the laziness and incompetence, of most verse translators. The few poets who were willing (or able) to translate verse form into identical verse form could hardly be expected to take so much time out from their other literary activities. Nevertheless, when I mentioned my 'idea' to him, he reacted positively, offering ...


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