Electra

Electra

Electra

Electra

Synopsis

Based on the conviction that only translators who write poetry themselves can properly recreate the celebrated and timeless tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the Greek Tragedy in New Translations series offers new translations that go beyond the literal meaning of the Greek in order to evoke the poetry of the originals. Under the general editorship of Peter Burian and Alan Shapiro, each volume includes a critical introduction, commentary on the text, full stage directions, and a glossary of the mythical and geographical references in the plays. This vital translation of Euripides' Electra recreates the prize-winning excitement of the original play. Electra, obsessed by dreams of avenging her father's murder, impatiently awaits the return of her exiled brother Orestes. When he arrives, the play mounts toward its first climax, a tender recognition scene. From that moment on, Electra uses Orestes as her instrument of vengeance. They kill their mother's husband, then their mother herself--and only afterward see the evil inherent in these seemingly just acts. But in his usual fashion, Euripides has imbued myth with the reality of human experience, counterposing suspense and horror with comic realism and down-to-earth comments on life.

Excerpt

The Greek Tragedy in New Translations is based on the conviction that poets like Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides can only be properly rendered by translators who are themselves poets. Scholars may, it is true, produce useful and perceptive versions. But our most urgent present need is for a re-creation of these plays--as though they had been written, freshly and greatly, by masters fully at home in the English of our own times. Unless the translator is a poet, his original is likely to reach us in crippled form: deprived of the power and pertinence it must have if it is to speak to us of what is permanent in the Greek. But poetry is not enough; the translator must obviously know what he is doing, or he is bound to do it badly. Clearly, few contemporary poets possess enough Greek to undertake the complex and formidable task of transplanting a Greek play without also "colonializing" it or stripping it of its deep cultural difference, its remoteness from us. and that means depriving the play of that crucial otherness of Greek experience--a quality no less valuable to us than its closeness. Collaboration between scholar and poet is therefore the essential operating principle of the series. in fortunate cases scholar and poet co-exist; elsewhere we have teamed able poets and scholars in an effort to supply, through affinity and intimate collaboration, the necessary combination of skills.

An effort has been made to provide the general reader or student with first-rate critical introductions, clear expositions of translators' principles, commentary on difficult passages, ample stage directions, and glossaries of mythical terms encountered in the plays. Our purpose throughout has been to make the reading of the plays as vivid as possible. But our poets have constantly tried to remember that they were translating plays--plays meant to be produced, in language that actors could speak, naturally and with dignity. the poetry aims at being dramatic poetry and realizing itself in words and actions that are both speakable and playable.

Finally, the reader should perhaps be aware that no pains have been spared in order that the "minor" plays should be translated as carefully and . . .

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