GABBLER RECOMMENDS: The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English The classicist Emily Wilson has given Homer’s epic a radically contemporary voice. By WYATT MASON

“If you’re going to admit that stories matter,” Wilson told me, “then it matters how we tell them, and that exists on the level of microscopic word choice, as well as on the level of which story are you going to pick to start off with, and then, what exactly is that story? The whole question of ‘What is that story?’ is going to depend on the language, the words that you use.”

Throughout her translation of the “Odyssey,” Wilson has made small but, it turns out, radical changes to the way many key scenes of the epic are presented — “radical” in that, in 400 years of versions of the poem, no translator has made the kinds of alterations Wilson has, changes that go to truing a text that, as she says, has through translation accumulated distortions that affect the way even scholars who read Greek discuss the original. These changes seem, at each turn, to ask us to appreciate the gravity of the events that are unfolding, the human cost of differences of mind.

The first of these changes is in the very first line. You might be inclined to suppose that, over the course of nearly half a millennium, we must have reached a consensus on the English equivalent for an old Greek word, polytropos. But to consult Wilson’s 60 some predecessors, living and dead, is to find that consensus has been hard to come by. Chapman starts things off, in his version, with “many a way/Wound with his wisdom”; John Ogilby counters with the terser “prudent”; Thomas Hobbes evades the word, just calling Odysseus “the man.” Quite a range, and we’ve barely started. There’s Alexander Pope’s “for wisdom’s various arts renown’d”; William Cowper’s “For shrewdness famed/And genius versatile”; H.F. Cary’s “crafty”; William Sotheby’s “by long experience tried”; Theodore Buckley’s “full of resources”; Henry Alford’s “much-versed”; Philip Worsley’s “that hero”; the Rev. John Giles’s “of many fortunes”; T.S. Norgate’s “of many a turn”; George Musgrave’s “tost to and fro by fate”; the Rev. Lovelace Bigge-Wither’s “many-sided-man”; George Edgington’s “deep”; William Cullen Bryant’s “sagacious”; Roscoe Mongan’s “skilled in expedients”; Samuel Henry Butcher and Andrew Lang’s “so ready at need”; Arthur Way’s “of craft-renown”; George Palmer’s “adventurous”; William Morris’s “shifty”; Samuel Butler’s “ingenious”; Henry Cotterill’s “so wary and wise”; Augustus Murray’s “of many devices”; Francis Caulfeild’s “restless”; Robert Hiller’s “clever”; Herbert Bates’s “of many changes”; T.E. Lawrence’s “various-minded”; William Henry Denham Rouse’s “never at a loss”; Richmond Lattimore’s “of many ways”; Robert Fitzgerald’s “skilled in all ways of contending”; Albert Cook’s “of many turns”; Walter Shewring’s “of wide-ranging spirit”; Allen Mandelbaum’s “of many wiles”; Robert Fagles’s “of twists and turns”; all the way to Stanley Lombardo’s “cunning.”

One way of talking about Wilson’s translation of the “Odyssey” is to say that it makes a sustained campaign against that species of scholarly shortsightedness: finding equivalents in English that allow the terms she is choosing to do the same work as the original words, even if the English words are not, according to a Greek lexicon, “correct.”

“What gets us to ‘complicated,’ ” Wilson said, returning to her translation of polytropos, “is both that I think it has some hint of the original ambivalence and ambiguity, such that it’s both ‘Why is he complicated?’ ‘What experiences have formed him?’ which is a very modern kind of question — and hints at ‘There might be a problem with him.’ I wanted to make it a markedly modern term in a way that ‘much turning’ obviously doesn’t feel modern or like English. I wanted it to feel like an idiomatic thing that you might say about somebody: that he is complicated.”

I asked: “What about the commentator who says, ‘It does something that more than modernizes — it subverts the fundamental strangeness of the way Odysseus is characterized.’ I’m sure some classicists are going to say it’s flat out wrong, ‘Interesting, but wrong.’ ”

“You’re quite right,” she replied. “Reviewers will say that.”

How, I asked, would she address such a complaint from someone in her field?

“I struggle with this all the time,” Wilson said. “I struggled with this because there are those classicists. I partly just want to shake them and make them see that all translations are interpretations.” Most of the criticism Wilson expects, she says, will come from “a digging in of the heels: ‘That’s not what it says in the dictionary, and therefore it can’t be right!’ And if you put down anything other than what’s said in the dictionary, then, of course, you have to add a footnote explaining why, which means that pretty much every line has to have a footnote. …” Wilson paused. “That goes to what this translation is aiming to do in terms of an immersive reading experience and conveying a whole narrative. I don’t know what to say to those people, honestly.” Wilson laughed her buoyant laugh. “I need to have a better answer to them, because they will certainly review it, and they will certainly have a loud voice. They just seem to be coming from such a simple and fundamental misunderstanding.”

“Of what?”

“Of what any translation is doing.”

What a translation is doing — and what it should do — has been a source of vigorous debate since there were texts to translate. “I’m not a believer,” Wilson told me, “but I find that there is a sort of religious practice that goes along with translation. I’m trying to serve something.”

[Via]

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GABBLER RECOMMENDS: B.L.A.’s Twitter Rant About Vulcan’s Representation in American Gods

So BLA recently went on a tangent about how Vulcan is (seemingly going to be) represented in the new American Gods Starz adaptation:

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

Elizabeth King on Automata

‘An automaton is defined as a machine that contains its own principle of motion. Strictly speaking, a clock is an automaton. The notion of an artificial human figure—an “android” as it has come to be called—derives in part from the tradition of the striking jack in the great medieval town clocks, in which the hour would be sounded by a mechanical figure springing into motion with a hammer and gong. That this employment once fell to a living person, the town watchman suggests that here were our first labor-saving robots. But the animated figure, or moving sculpture, can be traced back to ancient Egypt. “At Thebes accordingly, there were statues that spoke and made gestures. The priests made the heads and arms move by devices not as yet clearly explained” we are told by Egyptologist Alexandre Moret, invoking the same combination of mystery, divine intervention, human ingenuity, and mechanics of deception our own monk exhibits. Theater has always been the partner of religion.

The sixteenth century was a period of tremendous mechanical sophistication: the dawning of the scientific revolution. Clockmaking was to become a profession in its own right, separate from its origin in the blacksmith’s art, and its former association with gun- and locksmithing. Precision timekeeping in centuries to come would become crucial to the world shipping trade for its use in determining navigational longitude. [50] But in its early form, clockmaking was driven less by the problem of measuring time, and more by the astronomer’s efforts to model the locations and motions of “the fixed and moving stars,” that is, to capture the animating principle of the universe.

A significant development—perhaps the significant development—from the medieval town clock, driven by enormous systems of weights, was the emergence of the spiral spring combined with the fusee. A fusee is an ingenious device for making the driving force of a spring constant. Once attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, earlier examples of the fusee have now been found. When wound, a mainspring could now deliver a steady application of tension, rather than a stronger and then progressively weaker force as it ran down.  An early fusee, made of wood, is found in the mechanism of the monk .

The other important development in the mechanical arts was the cam. An ancient device attributed to Archimedes,  the cam reached broad use in the fifteenth century in the striking trains of clocks. A cam is simply a barrel or disk of metal rotated by the gear train. Its outer edge is either studded with short pins, or cut to a calculated profile, and as it turns, one end of a lever, riding against that uneven edge, is set in motion. Called a following arm, the lever translates the cam’s calculated profile into reciprocating movements that can be highly precise and carefully timed. Numbers of such levers can operate for example the spring-tensioned linkages to the monk’s arms, legs, head, eyes. The cam is thus the memory of the machine, and its profile is the analog information base for generating the exact movements of a given part.”

-Elizabeth King,  “A Short History of the Relations Between Machines and Divinity (Deus ex Machina).”

What are some of your favorite books that have a Halloween theme/scene?

halloweenauto

Let us know in the comments below!

 

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

We’re hosting a “Labor Day Giveaway” to give you something to work on this weekend:

http://theeditorandnarratorcollaborate.tumblr.com/post/149899236283/were-hosting-an-amazon-giveaway-for-the

Coin toss: Take a chance on THE AUTOMATION

coinflip

Get a manuscript here.

BookTuber Tuesday – Jennifer Garner Reads ‘Go the F*ck to Sleep’ (late post)

It may be Wednesday, but it’s always Tuesday for a booktuber…

Check out other book vlogs we’ve featured here.

Have a book vlog video you want us to check out? Submit a link below in the comments and it could make the CIRCO blog.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

Tweets of the Week(s): Garuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama…

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount CharThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gabbler doesn’t just recommend it. Gabbler demands you read it.

View all my reviews

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

“Homer’s description of these metallic ladies as accomplished, smart, and strong has surprisingly modern ring: they are…”

“In ancient Greece and Rome, small female figures made of clay, ivory, and even bone had articulated hands and legs fastened using pins or wire so that they could look animated when shaken or moved. In Greece, the figures were often too fragile to be toys; instead, they were used as votives or offerings to the gods placed in household shrines, temples, burial sites, and graves where they could also be protective devices or prized possessions of the deceased. Young girls offered the doll figures to Apollo, Artemis, and Aphrodite before their marriages to ensure that they would attain a healthy, functioning female body that produced and nourished children, the ideal of ancient Greek femininity.

The Idea of automatons – self-moving female and male figures – had been around since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians produced animated, hot air-driven statues used for religious and political purposes, and in Greece some of the oldest female figures were described in Homer’s epic poem The Iliad where Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods (later called Vulcan by the Romans) is helped by two maidservants as he goes about making a shield for Achilles. In Homer’s ancient Greece, women (apart from the great goddesses like Aphrodite and Athena) were largely consigned to loom and family, but Homer’s description of these metallic ladies as accomplished, smart, and strong has surprisingly modern ring: they are

all cast in was gold but a match for living breathing girls / Intelligence fills their hearts, voice, and strength their frames, / From the deathless gods they’ve learned their works of hand. “

From My Fair Ladies by Julie Wosk.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

Tweets of the week: As Proud as a Peacock

“The jobs performed primarily by women are relatively safe, while those typically performed by men are at risk.”

Read the rest. 

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: Ex Machina

“So the only reason why an A.I. would actually need to have a gender is to interact with humans — in fact, a gender presentation might appear to be a kind of user interface or plug-in for an artificial intelligence. To perform a particular gender is, in a sense, to compile a program in the physical world.”

Read the rest at i09.

[BLA and GB Gabbler (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellow B&N | Amazon | Etc.

On Naming Automata:

Maud.
Maud.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellow B&N | Amazon | Etc.

Original image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/opencage/4921938

Gabbler Recommends: The Book of Life


An adorable and beautiful film.

What are you waiting for? Go watch it now!

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellow B&N | Amazon | Etc.

Tweets of the Week: Why do birds suddenly appear?

From a review on Amazon:

We really need someone to buy this for us:

We found this fascinating:

 

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellow B&N | Amazon | Etc.

Janus / January Roundup: a summary of our annotations:

Janus has two heads on his coin, brah.

Yes, it’s a little late getting here. But here are those two-faced highlights: 

As usual, Gabbler recommend a lot.  of.  stuff. (And you can always find MORE stuff s/he recommends by searching our categories in the sidebar —–> ).

We unveiled our latest GIF for THE AUTOMATION.

[I, the Author, posted an illustration on what it’s like having your book carry the baggage of two pen names, even though it’s written by only one person.]

An exclusive excerpt from THE AUTOMATION was recently featured on another blog. And we posted about it.

And there’s also the 2014 roundup that will fill in any blanks up to this point. I mean, it’s either that or you keep on scrollin’.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellow B&N | Amazon | Etc.

The Acrobat’s Family, The Injured Child — Gustave Dore

Abraham Riesman on “Why Adapting Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for TV Is a Bad Idea”

 

“…And perhaps most offensive, we’ll get the book’s Big Statement About America, which is bizarrely insulting to Native Americans. Near the end of the novel, a Native American with magical powers named Whiskey Jack tells Shadow he’s not a god, but rather a “culture hero,” because the land we call America “is not a good country for gods.”

“There are creator spirits who found the earth or made it or shit it out, but you think about it: who’s going to worship Coyote?” Whiskey Jack tells Shadow. “[W]e never built churches. We didn’t need to.”

Really? No houses of prayer? How, then, do you account for the Longhouses the Iroquois built for their prayer ceremonies? And no true gods that anyone bothered worshipping? That’s an insane generalization about more than ten thousand years’ worth of spiritual culture across an entire continent.

There’s one other cultural shift since 2001 could trip up the American Godsseries: the oversaturation of flawed, macho male protagonists in cable dramas. Unless the series undergoes a truly radical change in its TV adaptation, we’ll end up with a show about a tough guy struggling with inner conflict, a sexy man fighting his demons and solving problems in a changing world. Snore.

None of this is to say American Gods is a bad novel in terms of storytelling. Despite its datedness, it’s an extremely entertaining read filled with vivid scenes, goose-bump-inducing vignettes, and often-gorgeous prose. Fuller and Green are smart guys, so perhaps they’ll jettison or modify all the stuff that could trip the show up. And Neil Gaiman is no doubt aware that some of what he wrote doesn’t quite work these days; if so, in his role as executive producer, he can offer guidance on correcting the course.

Still, we shouldn’t rush to anoint this upcoming text-to-TV translation as the next mind-blowing thing quite yet until we see whether the source material can work in 2014…”

 

From here.

What do  you guys think? Does the series sound promising?

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and goodreads.]

How the internet is changing art:

Miller: As someone who is primarily interested in books, this idea does trouble me. The form of the book hasn’t changed. It might be delivered electronically but it is still a text narrative, good or bad. I don’t really care whether a novelist is charming or is adept at pitching their work in a video or website. When it comes to the David Foster Wallaces of the future, what I want is their books. That’s it. I’m concerned that I won’t get those books if the authors also have to be good at marketing themselves to have any career at all.

Doctorow: But that’s always been the case. It’s just who you’re marketing yourself to, and how you conduct yourself. My one certainty is that there is and always have been so many people who want to make art for reasons that are innate to the human condition. Whatever factors favor which artists, there will be more art than I can ever consume that I will love and that will uplift me. That just seems axiomatic to me. There is more beautiful, wonderful work being published today than ever before. And I can access it more readily than ever before. My concern as a working artist and someone who cares about the fortunes of the people who make the art that I love is that whatever money is in the system preferentially is diverted to them. And that in the process of making marketplaces for art we don’t set up the conditions for totalitarianism.

From here.

We will say it would be much harder to do our own art if we could not maintain a veil of anonymity. It is kind of the point.

all yellow

In other news, we have a giveaway going on for the above book (^^^) and Ursula K. Le Guin’s THE LATHE OF HEAVEN. (Enter here!)

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, and goodreads.]

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: Maria Bamford

You may recognize her from the TV show Arrested Development (another GABBLER RECOMMENDS). But she is also a comedian, voice actor, and dog-lover.

 

 

In other news, we are giving away a free copy of THE AUTOMATION print edition.

raffle

Or, you can just buy the ebook on Smashwords or other places.

smashwords

Or, at the very least, just effing read about it here, you lazy butt.

circo COVER repeatsps