15 August 2005

Rilke in translation

There are now more than twenty American translations of the Duineser Elegien. Marjorie Perloff's interesting essay Reading Gass reading Rilke addresses the cult of Rilke in the USA, the politics of translation (who is doing it and how) and degrees of untranslatability amongst German modernists. Her response to William H. Gass's Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation highlights the pitfalls of cultural appropriation, with precise examples; her argument for learning German in order to read the poetry is utterly convincing.
At the Stephen Spender Memorial Trust website, see the Rilke poem 'Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes' and its translation by a poet and grammarian called Michael Swan.