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Reviews 111 the maltreated orridiculedcorpse. There is no consideration of the immanent philosophical presence of death and mutilation; for example, in Shakespearian comedy w e do not encounter Mercade in the deerpark or the deathshead in Arcadia. There is no section on pastoral. O n the whole, however, the book is outstandingly successful, lucidly and unpretentiously written, learned but never pompous, always diverting but never facetious or laboured. It constitutes a sensitive and discriminating account of all the varying and conflicting elements which w e conjure up when w e invoke the apparently monolithic concept of comedy. The laughter/harmony d d e m m a is resolved in the lastfiveand a half lines of the book. David Ormerod Department of EngUsh University of Western AustraUa Newth, M. A., trans., The Song of Aspremont (La Chanson d'Aspremont) (Garland Library of medieval literature, Vol. 61, series B), N. Y., Garland, 1989; cloth; pp. xxx, 271; 1 map; R. R. P. US$42.00. In the Preface of the General Editors to this volume, it is stated that the purpose of the Garland series is 'to make available to the general reader m o d e m translations of texts in editions that conform to the highest academic standards' and 'to render the foreign works in a natural idiom that remains faithful to the originals'. Not only general readers but also students who wish to include medieval literatures in their studies frequendy lack the necessary language skdls to read these literatures in their original form. It is all the more necessary, then, to provide translations which competently provide access to the content and style of the original texts. Should this include an attempt at the original metrical scheme? The translator of this volume has chosen to re-create the work of the medieval author by rendering his translation into the pattern of assonanced laisses contained in the original. Is this very difficult feat justified in terms of the stated aims of the General Preface? Consider two different translations of the famous passage in the Chanson de Roland where Roland refuses to blow the olifant and instead exhorts OUver to stand andfight.The assonanced translation by Dorothy Sayers of laisse 79 (Penguin Classics, 1959 edition) reads: Look to it now! Let each man stoutly smite! N o shameful songs be sung for our despite! Paynims are wrong, Christians are in the right! Ill tales of m e shaU no mantell,say I! 172 Reviews The 1972 translation by D. D. R. Owen, published by Unwin, reads: N o w let each man take care to deal great blows, So that no song of shame be sung of us! Pagans are wrong and Christians in the right! N o bad example shaU be set by me. The last line of the laisse is Malvaise essample n'en seratja de mei (edited by W . Calin, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1968). Not only is the O w e n translation more 'modem', in the terms of the Preface quoted above, but it is also more accurate. The compromises required to achieve an assonanced English translation of the original Old French text jeopardise the accuracy of the translation. Unfortunately the translation of the Aspremont prepared by Newth suffers the same inaccuracies. In the opening laisse, for example, N'aloit n'ient les barons empirant is translated as 'No word of his would harm the barons' luck'. There is no suggestion of luck or chance in the original and it should not be there in the translation. The quaint and dated EngUsh of Sayers' Roland is also a feature of Newth's Aspremont. For example, the Old French word paien can perfectiy adequately be translated as 'pagans' without the necessity of the arch anachronism 'paynims', but the latter term is used throughout the Aspremont. The vigorous Vont s'ent paien, li cuvert solduiant, which begins laisse 427, is translated as 'The Paynim troops, those dl-bred ruffians, flee'. W h y not keep the force of the inversion and begin, 'Fled are the Pagans ...'? Likewise, in laisse 431, La gens d'Aufrique ne porent plus sofrir is translated as 'Those Afric folk no longer can abide'; a construction...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 171-172
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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