Sunday, 8 May 2011

Translating Rimbaud's Illuminations

by Clive Scott.

I was excited to discover this book. One of my fascinations is in comparing the various translations of Rimbaud's work. Paul Schmidt remains my favourite. But frankly, I found this book a great letdown. The author posits a rather "organic" approach to translation: "setting out to invest the poems with expanded potential by reshaping them into new expressive environments." Hmm.  He suggests that the translator's imagination can operate more effectively if it fully exploits the space of the page, if it adopts tabular rather than linear ways of thinking.

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