Poems and Imitations with a Letter from T. S. Eliot

Article excerpt

Robert Ellrodt, Professor Emeritus of English at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, is recognized internationally as one of the premier scholars of Renaissance literature during the latter half of the twentieth century. When I was a graduate student in the English Department at Yale during the early seventies, his L'Inspiration personnelle et l'esprit du temps chez les poetes metaphysiques anglais (1960) was required reading for Louis Martz's dissertation students, and C. S. Lewis's review of Neoplatonism in the Poetry of Spenser (1960) drew attention not only to Professor Ellrodt's careful scholarship, but also to his remarkable command of English. Four decades later, when I had the honor of reviewing Seven Metaphysical Poets (2000), I, too, was moved to take note of his strikingly clear and forceful English--superior by that time to much of what was being published by native speakers. In recent years, Professor Ellrodt's scholarly activity has continued unabated, including trenchant studies of Shakespeare, especially King Lear.

Given his rare competence in English, it is not surprising that Robert Ellrodt has also translated numerous works of English literature--Shakespeare's Sonnets, Donne's Poems, Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, and John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but also Keats and Shelley. These translations are principally works of scholarship as well, carefully annotated and translated with the needs of French readers in mind. Professor Ellrodt's mastery of English, however, goes far beyond mere competence, as the documents that follow demonstrate. As a young man studying the English Metaphysical poets, a study that would eventually result in L'Inspiration personnelle, he felt challenged to emulate them--in their own language. …