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Modernist Hellenism argues that engagement with Greek was central to the evolution of modernist poetics throughout the first half of the twentieth century. It shows that Eliot, Pound, and H.D. all turn to Greek literature, and increasingly Greek tragedy, as they attempt to grapple not only with their own evolving poetics but also with changing sociocultural circumstances at large. Revisiting major modernist works from the perspective of each poet's translations and adaptations from Greek, and drawing on archival materials, the book distinguishes Pound and H.D.'s work from Eliot's and argues for the existence of a specifically modernist hellenism (rather than, say, classicizing or idealizing, decadent or heretical), which is personal, politicized, and unconstrained by institutional standards, but also profoundly textual, language-based, and engaged with classical scholarship. This title is part of the Flip it Open Programme and may also be available Open Access. Check our website Cambridge Core for details.
This chapter traces key moments and motifs in the history of the translation of Greek texts primarily into English. It highlights how Greek translation becomes paradigmatic for translation tout court, informing both translation rhetoric and practice, and then tackles the model cases of Homer and Sappho, the former diachronically, the latter synchronically through several case studies from the first half of the twentieth century. It homes in on modernist writers’ particular understanding of translation as poised between critical scholarship and creative practice in order to argue that poets such as H.D. or Ezra Pound evade or even subvert existing modes of conceptualizing both ‘Greece’ and translation, thus opening the way for the plethora of approaches that characterize Greek translation today. The chapter concludes with a cautionary note as it examines the programmatic resistance to Greek translation displayed by Virginia Woolf and Yorgos Seferis.