Monday, June 22, 2009

Having failed miserably to supply content in Peculiar's absence, I shall send at least one charming discover our readers' way: Anne Carson's An Oresteia. Aeschylus' Oresteia is the only complete trilogy of plays we have from the Greeks, and so it takes a certain amount of sand to translate only his Agamemnon, and follow it up with Sophocles' Elektra and Euripedes' Orestes. She really only hits her stride with Sophocles, but all three plays are solidly done, and all have moments of brilliance. Her Cassandra I found moving; and the end of it all, Euripedes' mad tragi-comic wrap of an impossible mess, was perfectly toned.

She does tend towards simplicity in language, even when the original is deliberately vague. But this is less a fault if we imagine her plays performed--and they are clearly written with that in mind. For sheer dramatic potential, I'll take her translation over any other I've encountered.


Chas S. Clifton said...

I've been reading her book. Fine job.
I like the way that her Elektra becomes a smart, mouthy teenager, as in the "Orestes":

An unlucky house is an impotent thing.
Known fact.

Odious said...

And Orestes is her brother newly home from college, with a scraggly goatee and opinions about Life.