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Thoughts on Kurk’s “You Be the Judge” Iliad translation comparison

December 5, 2011

If you haven’t taken Kurk’s You Be the Judge Iliad translation comparison yet, please do so.

However, I want to point out the following (unoriginal) observation:

Each of the translations presented by Kurk (excerpt perhaps Stephen Mitchell’s translation), showed some concern for some stylistic features of the original in the translation.  (This includes translations by Herbert Jordan in 2008; Stanley Lombardo in 1997; Robert Fagles in 1990; Robert Fitzgerald in 1974; and Richmond Lattimore in 1951.)

However, if one looks at most translations of the Hebrew Scriptures into English, there is generally relatively little attention paid to literary features.  The focus is on communicating the “meaning” of the Scriptures with much less attention paid to “how” the Scriptures express themselves.  This is quite startling when one remembers just what a distinctive voice the various parts of the Scriptures have in Hebrew.

The Bible has been translated many more times than Homer, and for a much broader audience.  Why are its translations so impoverished compared to the translations we have of Homer?

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