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The Flâneur: Catullus, Martial and Frank O’Hara

Smith, Simon M (2008) The Flâneur: Catullus, Martial and Frank O’Hara. PN Review, 35 (2). p. 54. ISSN 0144-7076. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:40675)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.


In her book Translating Words, Translating Cultures (Duckworth, 2000) Lorna Hardwick broadens the traditional idea of translation to include

interpretation of the wider meaning of the source text, both in its own time and for later readers. This aspect raises big questions about how the translator/writer views the relationship between ancient and modern, not just in terms of language but also in terms of values and ideas. The relationship between the two texts is also shaped by the readers or audience, who receive the new version and in turn give it their meaning. (p. 10)

Hardwick's book provides a necessary map and much of interest; however, there are more radical ways of thinking about the process of translation. One such way might be to examine cultural, theoretical and philosophical equivalences (or differences) between works of translation now undertaken in the early twenty-first century, and poems and their contexts from the Roman world.

Item Type: Article
Additional information: ‘The Flâneur’ is an essay on literary translation from the point of view of a practicing poet, who is interested in rendering versions of the poems of the Roman poet Catullus. The essay is itself literary, in the sense that it enacts the kind of poetic idleness that is its subject: a form of reflection, distraction – browsing and leafing. The connections it makes -- between texts, literary and translation theory, and bodies of work by poets -- seem accidental yet fortuitous, but in fact are the necessary leaps that argue creatively for new moments of contact, realization and originality.The two poems (Poem 65 and 66) from Catullus in PNR 188 further evidence a literary translation practice. These are poems from Catullus’s ‘second book,’ poems 61-68, long poems covering marriage and associated themes. The poems are notoriously alien to contemporary English readers because of their extended metaphors, complex syntax, and ornate rhetoric, and their seeming determination to exclude the reader and remain inaccessible. The English versions attempt to reflect as faithfully as possible this level of complexity and alienation through offering line by line translations, tracking the movement of the line in a parallel choreography to the essay: to reveal the longer poems to be the enactment of a flâneur wandering, a further textual mooching with a purpose. In short, these poems are truthful to the Roman poet’s practice of (to use Paul Klee’s phrase) ‘taking a line for a walk’. ;
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Simon Smith
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 00:05 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:15 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Smith, Simon M:
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