Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 48-70

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seanjonesbw
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 48-70

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:38 am

mwh wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:14 pm
Aren’t we readers in a position analogous to his, inescapably imagining intentions and expectations etc behind what people actually say (just as we do in real life), and no less inescapably reaching for the poet’s meaning, behind or beyond that?
When was considering setting up this group I (perhaps naively) thought the point of a reading group was to share these things we inescapably imagine because it's interesting to hear the different ways that people experience the same text, and because people may suggest readings that enhance your own experience.

Then again, I remain catholic if people want to discuss all-pervading biases that might influence our reading, as long as they can show us how to usefully avoid such biases.

It is, of course, also a place to discuss the Greek which I think has been derailed slightly less than last week! 🙌
mwh wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:14 pm
To talk of love is surely anachronistic.
This is jumping ahead in the text a bit, so I'll leave this discussion for a few weeks, but I get the impression that we're talking about different sorts of love here. I mean no more than what's found (or imagined, in which case we really should leave it a few weeks) below and the feelings that people might have about forming this kind of union. I'll admit to a bit of horseplay with 'meet cute' and hearts being set aflutter 🙂.

Od 6.180-185
σοὶ δὲ θεοὶ τόσα δοῖεν ὅσα φρεσὶ σῇσι μενοινᾷς,
ἄνδρα τε καὶ οἶκον, καὶ ὁμοφροσύνην ὀπάσειαν
ἐσθλήν: οὐ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ γε κρεῖσσον καὶ ἄρειον,
ἢ ὅθ᾽ ὁμοφρονέοντε νοήμασιν οἶκον ἔχητον
ἀνὴρ ἠδὲ γυνή: πόλλ᾽ ἄλγεα δυσμενέεσσι,
185χάρματα δ᾽ εὐμενέτῃσι, μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί.
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seanjonesbw
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 48-70

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:15 am

I'm going to send this thread off down the Styx now (once it gets to two pages it's impossible to follow), but by way of reconciliation of the two ways of thinking it seems like Emily Wilson has been thinking about the same things as us over the past two weeks.

I just came across her twitter thread from June 11th. I recommend the whole thing but here are a few relevant bits:
There is a wonderful section from Louis Macneice's Autumn Journal that I often think about.
"and lastly
I think of the slaves.
And how one can imagine oneself among them
I do not know;
It was all so unimaginably different
And all so long ago."

Translation can be a way of enabling the reader to imagine herself among them: the unimaginably different cultures that exist both now and long ago. But we can never really know. Translation can and should also be a way to reinforce distance.

Sometimes, in my various translations from ancient texts, I've wanted the reader to have the surprise of realizing for a second: I can imagine myself among them.

At the same time, the world of Odysseus, immediately after this line, is clearly not yours or mine. It's a world of feasts, sacrifices, men-only athletics and magical boats. It's unimaginably same and unimaginably different. This is historical consciousness, in the round.

Every translation of an ancient text makes different compromises with the gulf between now and then. We imagine ourselves only momentarily in their world.

Macneice, same poem:
"Sleep serene, avoid the backward /
Glance; go forward, dreams, and do not halt."
This summarises quite nicely the way I try to engage with the Greek - if I come across on here as wanting too much of the "unimaginably same" it's because I feel there's a constant thumb in the balance towards "unimaginably different" that sometimes needs a little counterweight.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 48-70

Post by seneca2008 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:13 pm

mwh wrote :
If Sean is trapped within his Jilly Cooper, just so is seneca trapped within his late-20th-century criticism. No way out.
This has been what have I been saying all along. We are all trapped and there is no no way out and to imagine otherwise is to be deluded.

As Chris Lawn has observed in his "Gadamer A Guide for the Perplexed" (London 2006)" "Since Descartes, modern philosophy regarded correct method as a route to absolute certainty. Armed with a rational procedure, human thought becomes equal to natural science in replacing the dark forces of tradition with objective truth. The work of Hans- Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) contests this optimistic account of modernity, especially in the major work Truth and Method (1960). Gadamer starts by re-valuing the idea of tradition - from which Enlightenment thought distanced itself claiming that 'tradition' and 'reason' cannot be so easily teased apart. For Gadamer, tradition cannot be an object of 'pure' rational enquiry. The idea that we can step outside our own cultural reference points to embrace timeless truth is a demonstrable fiction of modernist thought".
Sean wrote My real question is this: What does Martindale's literary critical praxis look like?
Its not easy to summarise Martindale but a flavour and a critical review of his book can be found in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review here http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/1993/04.01.08.html. He is not setting out "a critical method" as an alternative but discusses problems with what he terms "positivist criticism" and tries to develop a more plural way of understanding texts. Its a polemical book addressed to what he regarded as a complacent and inward looking Latin classical establishment. I found reading it akin to reading Wittgenstein were one has to construct ladders to understand the text, but once one has climbed the ladder it is necessary to kick them away as that temporary help is no longer necessary.

Maybe we could come back to this in another thread when you have had time to read the book?

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 48-70

Post by Paul Derouda » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:47 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:29 am
Here are some translations of 66-67.

“So she coaxed, too shy to touch on her hopes for marriage, young warm hopes, in her father’s presence” - Fagles

“So she spoke, but she was ashamed to speak of her joyful marriage to her dear father” - Lattimore

“She had no word to say of her own wedding, though her keen father saw her blush” - Fitzgerald

“She spoke in this way because she was too shy to mention to her father the subject of marriage and all it promises” - Rieu

I concede that Wilson reads this much more neutrally, and there is something interesting to be said about four men reading her hopeful expectation of marriage while a women leaves in the ambiguity about why she feels shy.

“She said this since she felt too shy to talk of marriage to her father” - Wilson
Just a few words about translations. I think Wilson comes out on top here. Marriage isn't something to be ashamed of, Nausicaa is just shy. Whether the sex of the translator has any importance is beyond me, but I'd note that beside Wilson (certainly "problematic" in her own way), only Lattimore of the translators here quoted ever claimed to be particularly literal, and he is more concerned with creating an almost word-for-word crib than anything else. Fitzgerald, Fagles and Rieu are works of literature in their own right, for good or bad. I have the uncomfortable feeling that Rieu got "and all it promises" from ὁ δὲ πάντα νόει.

For a good crib I'd recommend either the revised Loeb or Martin Hammond. The best prose translation into English, in my opinion, is by Walter Shewring. Not for its style (I'm no judge, since English isn't my native language), but because I find that Shewring captures the nuances of the original well.

"So the princess appealed to him, too shy in the presence of her father to speak of her own happy bridal day." - Walter Shewring

One could (and should) of course object to "princess". But on many fine points I have found Shewring to be very perceptive.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 48-70

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:38 am

Paul Derouda wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:47 pm
Just a few words about translations. I think Wilson comes out on top here. Marriage isn't something to be ashamed of, Nausicaa is just shy.
I agree about Wilson's translation being the best of the bunch, but to my ear ashamed followed by the infinitive carries a weight much more like 'was embarrassed to' or 'was too shy to' compared with its use as a straight adjective. Other native speakers might disagree with me on this.
Paul Derouda wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:47 pm
Whether the sex of the translator has any importance is beyond me, but I'd note that beside Wilson (certainly "problematic" in her own way), only Lattimore of the translators here quoted ever claimed to be particularly literal
Fair point - I think Wilson said something in one of her interviews about her translation being more informed by her being an immigrant and a lover of English poetry than by being a woman, so it must have been quite frustrating that almost every headline was 'first English translation of the Odyssey by a woman'. Does she claim to be literal though?
Paul Derouda wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:47 pm
For a good crib I'd recommend either the revised Loeb or Martin Hammond. The best prose translation into English, in my opinion, is by Walter Shewring.
I've just ordered a copy! I'd avoided it purely because it was prose and I hate the Rieu translation but the best recommendations always come from fellow enthusiasts.
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