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Monday, 16 July 2007

French Made

There's a good and interesting review written by the British poet and critic, Lachlan Mackinnon, of an important new anthology of English poetry translated into French, in the July 6, 2007 issue (no. 5440) of the TLS. The book in question is from the canon-making Gallimard, and is titled Anthologie Bilingue de la Poesie Anglaise. It is relatively comprehensive, stretching from Beowulf to Simon Armitage, at over two thousand pages.

According to the review, the translators (there are dozens employed) mostly get things right, and, though there are rather curious omissions (Kenneth White) and curiously obscure inclusions (Michael Edwards), the work is ultimately impressive: "the editors of this volume and the translators have achieved an extraordinary entente cordiale."

Eyewear recently lived in Paris for a few years (2001-2003) and is much encouraged by this newly-expressed interest in the English poem. Poetry is apparently less of a living form among the French, with a few Oulipo-exceptions, unlike, say, fiction, or the theoretical essay, so even French poetry gets relative short shrift in France. There are also fewer anthologies of poetry, than in English publishing. I recall, last year, entering a stylishly-situated, and book-crowded bookshop on Saint-Germain, and having the anthology section pointed out to me by a disinterested shop assistant. It was a few brief shelves way at the top, and he gestured at a ladder. I'd climb it for this new book.
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