Saturday, October 13, 2012

Don Share on Montale, and "squirming through poetry"

In his Oxford lecture on Eugenio Montale's poem, "L'anguilla" ("The Eel"), Paul Muldoon explores this - and Montale's poem - wryly and thoroughly, perhaps definitively. Like everything else he does, it's a tour de force. As you'd expect, Muldoon starts off by quoting Robert Lowell's infamous introduction to Imitations and, having presented his own version, wiggles his way through a number of competing English translations of the poem (there must be at least fifty, but Muldoon takes on a selection of the most formidable of them). My guess is that most American readers read Montale's poems in either Jonathan Galassi's versions or William Arrowsmith's, though Charles Wright's have been a perennial favorite as well. Galassi's are increasingly becoming the go-to versions in this country, revised versions of which have just been reissued in paperback by his company, F.S.G.
-- Over at his Squandermania blog, Don Share reflects on his experience with Montale, on the occasion of the simultaneous reissue of the Galassi and Arrowsmith translations in comprehensive volumes. It is a rich post, highly recommended for persons interested in Montale and in tales of how translations and texts pass from author to translator, from scholar to scholar, from teacher to student.