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Simile World

Denis Feeney: Virgil’s Progress, 4 January 2007

Virgil: Georgics 
translated by Peter Fallon, with notes by Elaine Fantham.
Oxford, 109 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 0 19 280679 3
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Virgil: The Aeneid 
translated by Robert Fagles.
Penguin, 486 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 7139 9968 3
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... like the hapless charioteer in the terrifying simile that closes the first book of the Georgics. Robert Fagles comes to the task of translating the Aeneid with a lifetime of experience as a translator behind him, but the Aeneid is the first Latin text he has translated.* Until now he has worked on Greek texts, and is particularly admired for his ...

To the crows!

James Davidson, 27 January 1994

The Oldest Dead White European Males, and Other Reflections on the Classics 
by Bernard Knox.
Norton, 144 pp., £12.95, September 1993, 0 393 03492 5
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... London in the late Twenties finds himself over sixty years later an American citizen, described by Robert Fagles as ‘arguably the finest Classicist of our day’, by Peter Green as one his nation ‘ought to bronze’, and by Jasper Griffin as a man ‘one would like to have as a friend’. In his long career he has written on many subjects: scholarly ...

Agamemnon, Smith and Thomson

Claude Rawson, 9 April 1992

Homer: The ‘Iliad’ 
translated by Robert Fagles.
Viking, 683 pp., £17.95, September 1990, 0 670 83510 2
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Kings 
by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 86 pp., £4.99, March 1991, 0 571 16141 3
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... economically in the words ‘uncouth of speech’. The relentlessly reader-friendly translation by Robert Fitzgerald departs from the usual reading to say the Carians were led by their chief ‘in their own tongue’. Robert Fagles, whose version aims at an idiomatic directness lacking in Lattimore, without the ...

Homer Inc

Edward Luttwak, 23 February 2012

The Iliad by Homer 
translated by Stephen Mitchell.
Weidenfeld, 463 pp., £25, October 2011, 978 0 297 85973 4
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... expected to find one. But there were ten: one succinct W.H.D. Rouse prose translation and one Robert Graves, in prose and song, both in paperback; two blank verse Robert Fagles in solid covers; one rhythmic Richmond Lattimore with a lengthy new introduction;* and three hardback copies of the new Stephen Mitchell ...

Like a Meteorite

James Davidson, 31 July 1997

Homer in English 
edited by George Steiner.
Penguin, 355 pp., £9.99, April 1996, 0 14 044621 4
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Homer’s ‘Iliad’ 
translated by Stanley Lombardo.
Hackett, 584 pp., £6.95, May 1997, 0 87220 352 2
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Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ 
translated by Robert Fagles.
Viking, 541 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 670 82162 4
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... version, but its colloquialism sometimes lapses jarringly, occasionally amusingly, into cliché. Robert Fagles’s new version of the Odyssey, on the other hand, is a classic modern Homer: elegant, natural and smooth. His solutions to the difficulties of rendition are always so neat that it is easy to forget there has been any effort made. Such easiness ...

Spender’s Purges

Frank Kermode, 5 December 1985

Collected Poems 1928-1985 
by Stephen Spender.
Faber, 204 pp., £4.95, November 1985, 0 571 13666 4
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A Version of the Oedipus Trilogy of Sophocles 
by Stephen Spender.
Faber, 199 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 571 13834 9
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Journals 1939-1983 
by Stephen Spender, edited by John Goldsmith.
Faber, 510 pp., £15, November 1985, 0 571 13617 6
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... of dancing. Altogether the choruses are less richly rendered than they are in the translation by Robert Fagles, but the austerity is deliberate and this whole work is very cool and restrained. It results from an independent approach to Sophocles, and the introduction offers a personal reading of the plays which is both interesting and quite unlike the ...

Light through the Fog

Colin Burrow: The End of the Epithet, 26 April 2018

The Odyssey 
translated by Peter Green.
California, 538 pp., £24, April 2018, 978 0 520 29363 2
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The Odyssey 
translated by Emily Wilson.
Norton, 592 pp., £30, December 2017, 978 0 393 08905 9
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The Odyssey 
translated by Anthony Verity.
Oxford, 384 pp., £7.99, February 2018, 978 0 19 873647 9
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... So Verity has ‘shame is no good companion for a needy beggar,’ while the more garrulous Robert Fagles (whose 1996 version has stood up pretty well, though it is not a line for line rendering) has ‘bashfulness, for a man in need, is no great friend.’ ‘Embarrassed restraint’ is better than these alternatives because it makes it so clear ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Medea, 3 December 2015

... the season. The effect followed partly from the translation of the Iliad they’d chosen, Robert Fagles’s from 1990. Fagles goes for the choppy, hard stuff, preferring percussive consonants and end-stopped monosyllables. Some of the pastoral and domestic similes were cut, and a few of the interpolated myths ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... too many slips, some of them likely to be mere errors of the press (Menken for Mencken, Fagler for Fagles), some likely to be Room’s own (Lyttleton for Lyttelton. Wharton for Warton, and the lése-majesté of misquoting ‘They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace’). The translations from the French are slovenly: in a dedication an English woman should ...

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