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Imitations Paperback – October 1, 1990

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Imitations + Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida + Why Translation Matters (Why X Matters Series)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374502609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374502607
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Imitations is, so far as I know, the only book of its kind in literature . . . Lowell, who has used materials from other writers, all the way from Homer and Pasternak, has produced a volume of verse which consists of variations on themes provided by these other poets and which is really an original sequence by Robert Lowell of Boston."--Edmund Wilson

"The book has a twofold fascination: it gives access to the private realm of a major poet, showing us how he reads his masters and peers . . . At the same time it provides the reader with . . . creative echoes to a number of important poems."--George Steiner

Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Ott VINE VOICE on August 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
Robert Lowell has had dramatic upswings and downswings in his reputation as a poet. Right now, thanks to the release of his COLLECTED POEMS, edited by Frank Bidart, he is experiencing another upswing.

What has never suffered in esteem is this collection, IMITATIONS, the most influencial of its type since Ezra Pound's TRANSLATIONS. Lowell has, in his own words, "been reckless with literal meaning, and labored hard to get the tone." As Pasternak said, in poetry, the tone is everything. Hence the title: imitations, not translations.

Of course, I know many of the originals of these and Lowell has not been reckless, at least not by my standards. Instead he has (often, but not always) taken the translation one step beyond the normal conversion and internalized the poems to himself and his own experiences. A colossal trick of ego? Perhaps. "All my originals are important poems," he claims in his introduction. As if to dance upon the grave of Western poetry, the first imitation condenses THE ILIAD into 46 lines. But Lowell is much more respectful from there, and earns his faithfulness to the original poets in his own unique way.

I think he really has succeeded in making poems that equal the originals with a high percentage. He has also put his unmistakeable pissmark on them. George Steiner called them "creative echoes." Whatever they are, love 'em or hate 'em, they are a must read for all poets and translators, a sort of gauntlet thrown down upon the heads of Homer, Sappho, Heine, Villon, Baudelaire, Rilke, Montale, Pasternak et al. How should one go about translating any literature? This is one of the best points of departure.
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