Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
This week, we salute Emily Wilson, whose new English-language translation of the Odyssey is (incredibly enough) the first ever published by a woman. We bring you the opening pages of her translation, plus interviews with two of her most famous modern precursors, Robert Fitzgerald and Robert Fagles.
If you’re in New York, you can hear Lorin Stein interview Emily Wilson this Wednesday, at McNally Jackson Books.
And wherever you are, you can receive instant access to our entire archive—and a new issue quarterly—by subscribing now.
From the Odyssey, Book I, translated by Emily Wilson
Issue no. 221 (Summer 2017)
Tell me about a complicated man.
Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost
when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy,
and where he went, and who he met, the pain
he suffered in the storms at sea, and how
he worked to save his life and bring his men
back home. He failed to keep them safe; poor fools,
they ate the Sun God’s cattle, and the god
kept them from home. Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.
Find the beginning …
Robert Fitzgerald, The Art of Translation No. 1
Issue no. 94 (Winter 1984)
Whoever had composed this poem had imagined people in action and people feeling and saying things out of what they felt; that work of imagining had to be redone. I had to reimagine it, so that it would be alive from start to finish. What had kept it fresh for so many centuries was the sensation you had, when reading it, that this was alive.
Robert Fagles, The Art of Translation No. 2
Issue no. 151 (Summer 1999)
When you’re translating the Iliad, by God it’s a tragic activity. When you’re translating the Odyssey, it’s wonderfully comic. Not only funny, what with the poem’s sneezes, puns and fools, but there’s something restorative about the Odyssey, a quality that belongs to the comic vision, as I mentioned before—the return home, the reclaiming of one’s roots, and the sensation of rising back to strength and health and wholeness.
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