Okay, so here is the obstacle I keep running into as I’m trying to formulate my thoughts about this translation: I HAVEN’T READ A TRADITIONAL TRANSLATION YET. Yet, though. Okay? Yet.
What I’m *thinking* is that AC has really foregrounded the tragic heroine contingent of this drama, giving lots of lines to Kassandra in the first book and tons to Elektra in the second, (while Orestes MEA CULPAS all over the chorus in the third, but whatevs, my observation is still trenchant.)
The problem is, like, big chunks of the story are sort of missing? Like, Agaememnon doesn’t really have a death scene? And I mean, COME ON SHE SUFFOCATED HIM WITH A PURPLE CLOAK IT’S THE HALLMARK OF THE WHOLE INTER-GENERATIONAL BLOODBATH HELLO. Klytaimnestra just rolls onstage and goes “Okay it’s done!” Which is: Frustrating! And: (Write it!) Sort of lame! The text is so spare, with such wide uncharted spaces between scenes, I can’t help but throw up my hands and go, What happened here? Did I get stoned and miss a bunch of lectures? Should I take an incomplete?
Though the attempt to sex up the prose falls flat a lot, it also REALLY sexes things up in some places, such as here, where the traditional WOE IS ME just wasn’t working for Dame Carson:
Kassandra: I will walk with my song torn open
Chorus: Why are you suddenly speaking clear as day?
A newborn child could construe what you say. It gives me a
bloody pain to hear all the griefs you name.
Kassandra: [scream:] [scream:] [scream:] for my ruined city
[scream] for the offerings my father made
to save its towers he
killed animal after animal
it did no good
we suffered anyway
and I am soon to hit the ground
I with my thermonous
thermonous means hot soul, burning mind,
brain on fire
Chorus: you’re back on track.
Some heavy spirit swoops in on you and takes
out comes Death.
(Outcomes? I’m not sure where this will
– and the translator’s note and the introductions to each section, placing the story in its historical/political context as commentary on Greek culture, as well as her own aims and setbacks and successes in the translation, are sort of the best parts? Which makes me want to opine that the entire project, start to finish, is a better inter-textual critique and conversation with other translations than a translation entire.
Which makes me feel a little sucker-punched, but Anne, I ain’t mad atcha.