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Showing posts from October, 2010

English translations of Ivo Andric's Travnicka Hronika

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Criticism of English translations of Ivo Andric's Travnicka hronika is confined to a small number of reviews and occasional comments in periodicals praising the first two translations for their fidelity to the original.1 Kenneth Johnstone's The Bosnian Story (1958), as the first English version of Andric's masterpiece was titled, had generally been regarded superior to John Hitrec's later Bosnian Chronicle (1963). Yet some American critics, notably professional Slavists, preferred Hitrec's translation for having masterfully captured the 'cadenced flow of the original' and for preserving 'a marvelous tapestry of Turkish Bosnia.'2 The novel's latest translation, The Days of the Consuls (1992), done by Celia Hawkesworth, likewise failed to generate extensive translation criticism. The few reviews published in Great Britain and abroad are said to have extolled Hawkesworth's translation as the most accomplished English version of Travnicka hronik…

Poem of the week: What mystery pervades a well! by Emily Dickinson

Shamefaced confession: I've been renewing my library copy of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson for more than a year. It's the perfect dipping-book, utterly reliable for a moment's, or an hour's, refreshment. There's no poet who's so consistently disconcerting, fascinating, odd-angled. Like Stephen Hawking, Dickinson takes you to the edge of the cosmos – which may be billions of light years away or at your back door. And it's the cosmos in microcosm, of course – another advantage. Dickinson's brevity convinces you that poems were never meant to be long or ostensibly complicated.
So it's high time I faced my chronic indecision and made a choice of Dickinson Poem of the Week (and, yes, bought my own copy of the Complete Poems). From a possible 1,775, I've picked number 1,400, the one that begins "What mystery pervades a well!"
It's a strange poem, "floorless", in a sense, and perhaps not flawless. The well appears to be …