In the spring of 1975, when poet Robert Duncan was bedridden with severe attacks of spinal sciatica, he received a letter from an old acquaintance informing him that he could find an image of “cerebro-spinal fluid” in the Greek of Pindar’s fragment 131 (96). Despite Duncan’s inability to read the language, he became fixated on translating it. While his resulting “Recital of the Pindar” might appear to bear little relation to its source, it provides a model for translation as a compulsive reaction to encountering a foreign text. As Duncan developed an erotic attachment to the Greek words, his attempt to translate them became, he says, “a poetic analogue of the transference in Freudian psyche-analysis.” Duncan’s transference displaces both his spinal debilitation and his unrealizable sexual desires onto the foreign text-object.


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pp. 90-106
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