Poems, Imitations & Translations


Sappho, Anacreon et Anacreontiques

This is the cover of a book I bought in the Hard-to-Find bookshop at Devonport on the 30th of July, 2006.

It was published by Editions Bernard Grasset (61, Rue des Saints-Peres, VIe arondissement, Paris), and printed in Abbeville-sur-Somme in January, 1932.

The French translation is by Mario Meunier, who had previously published versions of Sophocles (1907), Sappho (1911), Nonnos of Panopolis (1911), Euripides (1923), Plutarch (1924), Pythagoras (1925), Plato (1926-27), Aristophanes (1928), and Sallust (1928).

He himself says of this new edition of his translation of Sappho:

Most French translations of Sappho, Anacreon, and the Anacreontics are in verse. For myself, judging (with Madame Dacier) that "verse translations are very unfaithful" and that the sense itself matters more than the words with which one dresses the sense, I've tried to translate them into prose, without paraphrase and without obscuring the intimate rhythms of their lyrical exuberance too much [15].

Not knowing any Greek myself, this literal translation of Meunier's has been indispensable to me in trying to get closer to what Sappho and the other Greek poets were actually trying to say.

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