Wednesday, May 11, 2011

C. S. Lewis as Translator

Mistaking inspirations for their Source.

It is exciting that C. S. Lewis' Aeneid translation fragments are now available. And the story of the drafts' survival, as revealed in this edition's front matter, adds drama to their publication. If the attitude of Lewis and his brother had prevailed, we would have no trace of a great writer's efforts to render the great Roman epic in English. In a somewhat similar way, the intervention of Vergil's friends saved the original, half-finished Aeneid from the flames to which its author, on his deathbed, was keen to send it.

But in Lewis' case the intervention is not as easy to praise. Vergil gave the last third of his adult life to the Aeneid. Though he left it incomplete, the poem became an instant, undisputed classic. There is no toil or achievement of that kind in Lewis' partial translation (all of Book 1, and out of the remaining eleven books, portions ranging from 500 lines to short prose summaries to a single, incomplete line).

To read more, click here.

No comments: