Jan 16, 2013


Two excellent reviews by the legendary Robert Kelly on Pierre Joris' brilliant website Nomadics


Robert Kelly 

A note on two newly published translations I’m anxious to let the world know about:

Stuart Kendall, Gilgamesh. New York, Contra Mundum, 2012
Thomas Meyer, Beowulf, a translation. Brooklyn, Punctum Books, 2012.

Where does the tension come from that runs the poem?
What’s missing in almost all translations of the old stuff (the classics, the canon, that fleet of inscrutable foreign vessels lined up, sailing in against our ignorance) is tension. Tension means stretching, pulling the fabric taut, making the hearer (reader) hold the breath.

Scholars are mostly not good at holding anybody’s breath. (I think of a few exceptions—Magoun’s Kalevala, Tedlock’s Popol Vuh, Arrowsmith’s Petronius) but they are indeed exceptions.

But here come two grand triumphs of poetry bringing old instances of itself to new life. Simply said, a good translation of a poem must be itself a good poem.

Stuart Kendall’s new translation of the Gilgamesh tablets, Thomas Meyer’s newly published but decades-old translation of the Beowulf manuscript—these are our ancestral narratives: one of the whole western world, one of our own Northern Paranoid Lifestyle culture, whose languages we still are.

All great epics are always about slaying the monster. And here Beowulf and Gilgamesh in a strange way seem almost... MORE HERE !!!!!!

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