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Homer the South African

  • Jeffrey Murray

When reviewing a much-translated canonical text such as Homer's Iliad, it has become something of a topos to question the need for yet another translation of it. In the twenty-first century alone, Homer's Iliad has benefited from at least six published English translations already: Rodney Merrill (2007), Herbert Jordan (2008), Anthony Verity (2011), Stephen Mitchell (2011), Edward McCrorie (2012) and James Muirden (2012). Richard Whitaker adds his translation to the list with a slight variation on the standard Anglo-American English translations already available, presenting his readers instead with a ‘Southern African English’ version. With such a variety of Standard English prose and poetic translations already on offer, is there really a need for yet another Iliad? Will the novelty of its subtitle, as a ‘Southern African English’ Iliad, justify its publication, and what will prevent it from being judged merely as a postcolonial curiosity?

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Bhabha, H. 1994. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.
Coetzee, J. M. 2008. ‘Working with translators.’ In Lianeri, A. & Zajko, V. (eds), Translation and the Classic: Identity and Change in the History of Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 407–19.
Harrison, S. J. 2009. ‘Introduction: the return of the classics.’ In Harrison, S. J. (ed.), Living Classics: Greece and Rome in Contemporary Poetry in English. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 116.
Lambert, M. 2011. The Classics and South African Identity. London: Bristol Classical Press.
Oswald, A. 2011. Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad. London: Faber & Faber.
Young, P. H. 2003. The Printed Homer: a 3,000 Year Publishing and Translation History of the Iliad and Odyssey. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland & Co.
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English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
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