What goes into the translating of a poem? Usually that process gets
forgotten once the new poem stands intact in translation. Yet a verse
translation derives from historical, biographical, and philosophical
research, interpretive analysis of the original poem, and continuous
linguistic and prosodic choices that parallel those the poet made. Taking as a text Pablo Neruda's brilliant prophetic sequence Alturas de
Macchu Picchu (1945), the author here re-creates the entire process of
translation, from his first encounter with the poem to the last shaping of
a phrase that may never come right in English. This many-faceted book
forms an essay on the theory and practice of literary translation, a study
of Neruda's career through 1945, and an interpretation of his major poem, all of which lead to a striking new poem in English, Heights of Macchu Picchu, printed along with the original Spanish. This genesis of a verse translation also includes little-known biographical data, hitherto untranslated poems and prose from the years 1920 to 1945, and new translations of key poems from Neruda's Residence on Earth and Spain in My Heart.
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