Adam K.'s Reviews > Birds

Birds by Aristophanes
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Jul 13, 11

Read from July 11 to 13, 2011

I read William Arrowsmith's translation of this, and I enjoyed it more than I would have thought. I found myself drifting, as I often do with classical works that don't translate well into modern English, but Arrowsmith did a splendid job not only of translating it but also explaining his reasons for translating, giving very interesting insight into the process that I haven't had before. I had always thought that language translation was literal and word-for-word, requiring the translator basically to have a thorough knowledge of both languages and just substituting, but that's not it at all (and I should have known better). Arrowsmith has to sometimes reshape entire packages and create new wordplay to replace the old that wouldn't have translated from Greek to English, and endnotes detail each one. Were I reading this for class and actually pressuring myself to pay more attention to it, I would have found his endnotes endlessly helpful. Since I had no such accountability here, however, I must say that my constant drifting rendered them insightful, at best. I would say it's an entertaining read, and certainly not as opaque as you might fear, but as far as its relevance for me as a reader, I'm not sure.
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