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This article is taken from PN Review 19, Volume 7 Number 5, May - June 1981.

A Bounteous Harvest: Charles Tomlinson's Oxford Book George Steiner

I had best 'declare an interest'. I gathered The Penguin Book of Modern Verse Translation and published it in 1966 together with a preface setting out what I took to be the most useful ways of thinking about the nature and limits of the translation of poetry. This anthology was the first of its kind and was reissued some years later under the title: Poem into Poem. While editing the material, I had already started working towards what was to become After Babel (1975). Oxford University Press had come to me, precisely because of the Penguin anthology, to suggest that I write a fairly concise theoretical-historical treatment of the arts of translation. The book grew into its somewhat massive form. Quite early on, I put to Jon Stallworthy the idea of an Oxford Book of Verse Translation attempting to comprise the whole of English literary history and of the American contribution where my Penguin selection had only sought to represent the period from c. 1880 to the 1960s. Immersed in what was to become After Babel, I did not press the suggestion. And I do not now recall the exact date at which Stallworthy informed me that Charles Tomlinson had been asked to compile The Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation. When told this, I said to Stallworthy that my own files were very probably as extensive as any in private hands and that Tomlinson might find it of use to draw on them and on my own ...


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