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UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME
Crown 8vo, cloth, gilt top, 78. 6d. each, net. Each Volume Illustrated from ancient Sculptures and Painting
With an Introduction on The Rise
phanes' Frogs. By Prof. GILBERT Murray.
TRANSLATED AND EXPLAINED BY
JOHN SWINNERTON PHILLIMORE, M.A.
PROFESSOR OF GREEK IN THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW
0. S. U.
“ If, because of the immense fame of the following Tragedy, I wished to acquaint myself with it, and could only do so by the help of a translator, I should require him to be literal at every cost save that of absolute violence to our language. I would be tolerant for once—in the case of so immensely famous an original—of even a clumsy attempt to furnish me with the very turn of each phrase in as Greek a fashion as English will bear.”_BROWNING : Preface to the translation of Aga
une méthode, seule, existe, honnête et logique, de traduction : la littéralité impersonnelle à peine atténuée pour juste le rapide pli de paupière et savourer longuement. Elle produit, suggestive, la plus grande puissance littéraire. Elle fait le plaisir évocatoire. Elle recrée en indiquant. Elle est le plus sûr garant de vérité. Elle plonge, ferme, en sa nudité de pierre. Elle fleure l'arome primitif et le cristallise. Elle dévide et délie. Elle fixe. Certes si la littéralité enchaine l'esprit divaguant et le dompte, elle arrête l'infernale facilité de la plume.”_Un mot du traducteur à ses amis, J. C. MARDRUS. Preface to the Arabian Nights.
HAVE prefixed as the phylactery of this
book these two quotations ; but there are one or two other matters of which the reader (or he that keeps the reader's conscience) may expect that some account be given. Firstly,
why rhymed couplets instead of the traditional blank verse ?
I will not cite Dryden in defence of the rhymed couplet for dramatic verse, because I might be answered with Dryden's recantation. The great difficulty of English blank verse might be excuse enough ; but if a translator meekly confesses, “ I cannot write blank verse,' the critic, unappeased, may retort, “ Then don't translate Sophocles !”
But in truth I hold that the rhymed and not the blank verse is nearer the Sophoclean pitch of language. Sophocles moves, by predilection, in the middle diction, which is common ground to the poetical and the prose style ; his dialogue is colloquially plain and direct; in King dipus especially his vocabulary resembles that which Antiphon employed in prose to plead his cases, real or imaginary.
Now English blank Verse must fto my thinking) be always in full dress if it is to succeed-perpetually sonorous, balanced, aloof from the ordinary. True, Byron's noble dramatic verse is unrhymed, but too rhetorical for Sophocles, who is (with rare exceptions) notably pure from rhetoric. Wordsworth tried to abolish the distinction between verse and prose; we may bless him for easing poetical diction, but most of his blank verse might conveniently be printed as prose.