Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pan Tadeusz Bilingual text, June 16, 2009
This review is from: Pan Tadeusz/English and Polish Text (English and Polish Edition) (Paperback)
As the blurb says, "Pan Tadeusz" is Poland's best known literary work; it
enjoys iconic status in Poland and is a monument of European literature
as well. The Polish language text is subtle and varied and in places rises to great heights of eloquence and descriptive beauty. The blurb notes that Mackenzie's parallel version is widely regarded as the best of the three available in English. That said, while it keeps quite close to the original,it is not a literal translation, but a "poetic" version in rhymed couplets. It is consequently not a reliable "crib". Rhymed couplets work well in Polish because the grammatical inflexions make for a multiplicity of rhymes. This is much more difficult with English, especially in a long poem. Pope's "Iliad" is an exception which proves the rule. Mr Mackenzie is no Pope: An example taken at random from page 82 illustrates the problem: "But where she had been standing, he discerned/The little willow basket, overturned/And empty, which still poised upon the leaves/E'en now upon a sea of verdure heaves". An earnest effort, but the last line is a real plonker, and not untypical. Better to provide a stylish word for word prose version alongside, on the lines of Robert Fagles' translations of Homer. But Hippocrene are to be congratulated on their effort.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 13, 2011 3:47:39 AM PDT
Warbird says:
I couldn't agree more as to the foolishness of poetic translations! It's quite possible to match the spirit of a poem without turning sentences upside down in order to catch a rhyme. (And I extend that to the Iliad as well!) Still, I think I will order this one. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Posted on Dec 9, 2011 2:44:35 PM PST
rater25 says:
Just a note: Robert Fagle's translations of Homer are not in prose but "modern" verse. They are not particularly accurate and the editions are not bilingual.
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