Sunday, December 31, 2023

If Not, Winter - Fragments of Sappho translated by Anne Carson, Folio Society edition

 I am very happy with my purchase of this beautiful edition.

The letterpress quality and the cream - colored paper are just splendid. Homer would say "a wonder to behold".

The esthetic quality is especially evident, when I compare it to the Cambridge University Press Sappho translated by Diane J. Rayor and André Lardinois.

The paper of this hardcover edition is of a disturbing whiteness, so much so, that one has the impression that it is a "print - on - demand" horror.

But comparing both books reminds me of a problem I often have when reading historical Folio Society editions. While the Folio's are often, as objects , unbeatable in look and feel, their content is not of the highest order in accuracy or actuality.

With 100 fragments more than in the Folio, the Cambridge edition and translation is the book for the scholar or the enlightened amateur. The Folio edition however is bilingual and comes with the Greek text.

Finally , the Diane Rayor translation is more cautious, plainspoken and less manipulative "artistic".

In the Folio's edition, it is Anne Carson translation ( with all due respect ) that is the predominant voice.

But the Sappho scraps have always been a playground for free interpretation and association.