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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

Re: Poem: Theocritus: Cyclops

From:

"Jon Corelis" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Jon Corelis

Date:

Sat, 11 Apr 98 13:19:32 PDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (64 lines)

   Oh, good, some responses.  I was beginning to think you were all on the nod
out there.

 > From: Mark Weiss <[log in to unmask]>
 > This is an act of incredible naivete (incredible, surely, given the
 > multivocality of the mass media) that shows no evidence that Jon Corelis
 > has ever been closer to the American South than Smokey and the Bandit...

   Apparently Mark Weiss didn't like it.  Actually I'm surprised I haven't
gotten more responses like this, given how sensitive everyone is about ethnic
identity today.  My defense is to reiterate that I was trying, not to reflect
any social reality, but to explore what could be done with a stereotype by
emphasizing rather than hiding the fact that it is a stereotype.

   Another defense:  whatever my version's defects, when was the last time you
saw a translation from the classics which was *controversial*?

 > From: Robert Kelly <[log in to unmask]>
 >
 > a spirited and lovely version of Theocritus --- I think your readers (like
 > Kinsella's respnse already in) may have more trouble with the
 > transcription, the _written dialect_ look.  When I imagine it re-spelled
 > in Ordinary, except for those words which are dramatically different (he'p
 > for help, etc), I think I see a poem that will in no way call into
 > question the matter of sympathy.
 >

    I'm particularly grateful for the adjective "spirited", which is what I was
aiming for because most translations from the classics most certainly are not.
I always thought for instance that Lattimore's Homer and tragedy versions, which
are perhaps the most popular in American schools, should have been printed in
grey ink on grey paper.

   Robert Kelly's comments on the transcription are interesting, because the
poem exists in two versions, one in standard spelling, and the other with the
dialect phonetically spelled, the latter being the one I sent.  (If anyone wants
the ordinary version, please send me email.)  I offered the editor of The Dark
Horse both, and it was his decision, rather to my surprise, to choose the
phonetic one.

 > From: John Kinsella <[log in to unmask]>
 >
 > Interesting but I have problems with the Othering involved in the
 > "dynamic equivalent" employed here. Unless we are to read the process
 > as ironic, in which case the point is made about artifice and construct -
 > and fair enough - but without a "sympathy" that Theocritus for all his
 > manipulation certainly had. And if there is "sympathy", where exactly
 > is it coming from?

   The poems of Theocritus are, I think, masked drama, and the central problem
in interpreting them is to define the relationship of the mask to what is
inside it.  This problem may never be solved, due to our lack of knowledge of
their specific cultural and social context (yes we know a lot about the
Alexandrian era but not nearly enough about the aesthetics of the small group of
men who created its poetry.)  But my sense is that often in his work whoever is
inside the mask is peeping over the edge of it to relish the uproar which the
mask is causing.  The reactions here indicate that my version may be true to
Theocritus at least in this sense.

To:  BRITPOE([log in to unmask])


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