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After the Irish An Anthology of Poetic Translation
After the Irish An Anthology of Poetic Translation

Our Price:85.00
Authors: Gregory A. Schirmer
Affiliation: Professor of English at the University of Mississippi
Publication Year: Hardback 2009
Pages: 500
Size: 234 x 156mm

ISBN: 9781859184387


This anthology demonstrates that verse translation from the Irish represents, in its own right, a significant part of the tradition of Irish poetry written in English. Rather than offering the usual view of verse translation as a means of preserving and providing access to poetry written in Irish, this anthology foregrounds the aesthetic and cultural value of verse translation as poetry. The anthology is historical in form, beginning with a translation done in 1635, and concluding with the work of contemporary poets. The translations are grouped by individual translators, and arranged into five sections: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Nineteenth Century, Irish Literary Revival, Modern Ireland and Contemporary Ireland. Each translator is introduced with a headnote and each translation is fully annotated and accompanied by the original text in Irish and a literal translation of it into English.

The anthology includes a critical introduction which offers a concise but remarkably wide-ranging account of Irish poetry over the past three centuries, drawing attention to the relevant cultural and political circumstances from which it was wrought, with colonial and postcolonial issues particularly in mind. While at the same time the introduction gives careful and illuminating consideration to verse forms and other technical concerns. There is a strong sense of persistent cultural endeavour that gives coherence to a large group of writers and translators from diverse social, religious and political backgrounds. The anthology provides a great service to scholars working in the field of modern Irish literature by bringing together some of the well-known works of seminal poets and translators such as James Clarence Mangan and Samuel Ferguson together with literal translations of the originals on which their writings were based. In this respect, the anthology opens up a vivid and revealing perspective, allowing readers a privileged insight into the creative methods of some of Ireland's leading authors and cultural architects. A comprehensive bibliography of primary sources concludes the book.

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5 of 5 The assembly of a literary anthology is always att January 10, 2011
Reviewer: Nicholas M Wolf Australian Journal of Irish Studi from Republic of Ireland  
The assembly of a literary anthology is always attended by questions of  inclusion  organization  and intent. Should a collection reflect shared  understandings of a literary canon or seek to redefine the authors that  fall under that rubric? Should chronology  style  or authorial features  dictate the anthology s presentation? Finally  what should an anthology  contribute to current scholarship? With regard to the first issue   Schirmer s After the Irish might be able to sidestep the question  entirely: as an entry into a field English translations of Irish poetry   that has been far more visible as a creative force in Irish writing than an  actual subject for overarching scholarly appraisal  Schirmer s subject  has little in the way of a canon to either reinforce or challenge. As for  the second  Schirmer concedes little ground on the organizing principle  behind the anthology. As in his earlier study  Out of What Began: A  History of Irish Poetry in English  Cornell University Press  1998    Schirmer remains committed to chronology and individual authorship as  an entry point for understanding this body of poetry in translation.  Setting aside these first two questions for the moment  then  one might  therefore consider the scholarly value of Schirmer s anthology on its  own terms.  Schirmer has gathered a formidable list of English poetic translations  from Irish encompassing not just the usual suspects  Charlotte Brooke   James Clarence Mangan  Douglas Hyde  Frank O Connor  Thomas  Kinsella   but a number of underrepresented figures as well. This  includes early translators of the eighteenth century who were proficient  in both English and Irish  among them Charles Henry Wilson  Denis  Woulfe  and with Dermot O Connor  whose visibility has been  heightened as a result of Alan Harrison s excellent study Ag Cruinni   Meala  published in 1988 and cited by Schirmer here ; diligent scholartranslators  such as Samuel Ferguson  Standish Hayes O Grady  Eleanor  Hull  and Robin Flower; and contemporary translations by Michael  Hartnett  Paul Muldoon  Eil an N  Chuillean in  and Sara Berkeley of  poems by Nuala N  Dhomhnaill  Cathal   Searcaigh  and Michael  Davitt. But while such a large roster has the potential to crowd out the  translations themselves  Schirmer keeps the biographical details brief  and thereby allows the translations to hold the spotlight.  Yet even with the welcome diversity of Schirmer s roster of  translations  the anthology still finds its central force in a story about  Irish literature that has been told before. Its translations are assembled  chronologically  but in reality it is the familiar progression of literary  styles from the reflexively unsettled Anglo Irish approaches of the  eighteenth century to early nineteenth century romanticism; from  literary revival to modernism s targeting of the newly independent Irish  state; and  finally  arriving at a confident but restless present day that  truly undergirds the book. This tension between chronology and literary  paradigm yields some awkward decisions. Miche l  g   Long in  who  did the bulk of his scribal work in a fantastic burst in the last decades of  his life at the beginning of the nineteenth century  is strangely counted  an eighteenth century figure here; elsewhere  Thomas Kinsella  whose  inventive translations would seem to evoke the work of someone like  Frank O Connor  is placed not with the latter but with the translators of   Contemporary Ireland.   Such decisions hardly call into question the direction of the  anthology as whole  but reliance on such a familiar literary narrative  does ultimately bring an assessment of this anthology back to the first  two original questions regarding inclusion and organisation seemingly  easily answered on first read. Why not  for instance  forego the  traditional  i.e. Anglo Irish  starting point for literary criticism of the  modern period Jonathan Swift in favour of figures such as Se n and  Tadhg   Neachtain  whose arrival in Dublin at the very beginning of  the eighteenth century represented a major new turn in Irish literary  directions. Like Swift  the   Neachtains composed both original  material and translations of Irish verse into English  a practice that was  even more prevalent among later eighteenth century contemporaries  like Andrias Mac Craith   An Mangaire S gach   and Maurice  O Gorman. The omission of someone like Tadhg   Neachtain as a  translator points to the results of Schirmer s exclusive focus on  published translations. This decision shortchanges the eighteenth and  nineteenth centuries in particular  since all manner of verse translations  were conducted by unpublished scribes  authors  and scholars who  needed no prompting from Anglo Irish society to translate Irish poetry  into English  or vice versa . Such work lies out of reach of this  anthology.  Nevertheless  there is an argument to be made for the power of the  English translations presented here and the anthology s potential  usefulness as a teaching text or as a research aid. Despite his avowed  intention to place the focus on the translations themselves  Schirmer  offers a noteworthy amount of labour in the form of full literal  translations into English of the original Irish source texts  a useful  supplement in its own right to the anthology s poetic translations. And  although Schirmer can be occasionally scanty in providing references  for tantalizing biographical details  readers will find sufficient  information to situate lesser known translators in their historical  context. Ultimately  one cannot help but linger on lines such as the  evocation of wanderlust from O Grady s take on Donnchadh Ruadh  Mac Conmara s  Eachtra Ghiolla an Ammall in :  To bid my friends farewell in such haste  That to wish all goodbye seem d quite a waste  Of time; so with a knowing hat and band  Of newest fashion  and stick in hand.  or marvel at George Sigerson s aptly minimalist take on the early Irish   Sc l Lemm D ib    List my lay: oxen roar / Winter chides  Summer s  o er   fitting  given that this anthology  as it states  is above all else  about the artistry of translation.

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5 of 5 This enjoyable anthology serves as a great startin July 22, 2010
Reviewer: CHOICE current reviews for academic libraries from Republic of Ireland  
This enjoyable anthology serves as a great starting point for further research on the relationship between Irish  and English language literary relationships in Ireland. Reading these translations is a pleasure. Highly recommended to all readers.

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