Sappho BY bcw4749 Brenan Winters Dr. Cala A Zubair ENG 209 2, May, 2013 Fragments of Sappho While many translations of Sapphds work have been elaborated upon, Anne Carson aims to put less of herself into her work so we get more Sappho! Anne Carson’s ‘If Not Winter’ depicts Sappho in her truest form. There is no flourishing to her texts, only careful incomplete translations that force the reader to imagine what the complete versions of the texts might have looked like.
The empty space creates, although assumingly unintended by Sappho, a poetic emphasis on word choice and a feeling f emptiness created by the awareness of the size of lost work, while the brackets create a sense of drama, that the reader might feel uncovering these works from broken papyrus. So who was Sappho, exactly? Sappho was a Greek lyric poet who was born on the island of Lesbos. Her birth was sometime between 630 and 612 BCE and her death was around 570 BCE. Her only surviving work has been found in fragments.
Some of her poetry was discovered in Egyptian papyri fragments in ancient rubbish heaps and even a few preserved on a potsherd. The rest of what we know about Sappho is through citations in other ancient writers. We have an estimated three percent of her total work. There have been over 450 translations of her work in English since the early eighteenth century. Anne Carson has preserved Sapphcfs work the way it was found on the fragmented pieces of papyrus. In her introduction of ‘If Not Winter,” I emphasize the distinction between brackets and no brackets because it will affect your reading experience, if you allow it.
Brackets are exciting. Even though you are approaching Sappho in translation, that is no reason you should miss the drama of trying to read a papyrus torn in half or riddled with holes or maller than a postage stamp??”brackets imply a free space of imaginal adventure. ” But Just how does she accomplish this and why? First you must prepare yourself to become a literary archaeologist. If you like the idea of picking through ruins you’ll especially enjoy this version of Sapphds poetry. When reading Anne Carson’s version of the text you end up unearthing the text that is missing through your own imagination.
Many of the pages have less than twenty words on them which reminds the reader how much of Sapphds writing has been lost. This leads to the another aspect that is working in Carson’s favor, and that’s white space. White space creates emphasis. There are less words on the page, so you’re more drawn to them and you’ll put more importance in them. There is also a creation of a feeling of emptiness and isolation. The concept of emptiness works with Sapphds work because Sappho often felt very isolated in her suggested sexual preferences.
The concept of emptiness is effective because it makes the readers really come face to face with how much of Sapphds work has been lost. There is so much left out of her writing that the reader is really left with images and moods to which many translators have built greatly he holes of the papyrus. This is the same empty space that Anne Carson finds so important. “l like to think that the more I stand out of the way:’ Anne Carson says in the introduction to her translation, “the more Sappho shows through. Another thing that Carson uses to her advantage is the presence of brackets in ‘If Not Winter. ‘ Carson says this leaves Sapphds words up to the reader’s interpretation. She calls the brackets as a space for ‘lyrical adventure. ‘ This makes the text that much more generous, even though she gives us less in translation of Sappho. Leaving us with ess , Carson gives the reader a chance to experience the pleasure of imaging what the rest of Sapphds work was like. But then there are people who believe Sapphds work needs to be elaborated upon, like Willis Barnstone. Sappho appears naked in Greek,” Barnstone explains in the introduction to his book, “so to read her abroad she requires an attractive outfit in English. ” But at what cost? How much do we dress Sappho up until she becomes something completely different? Heels, wig, false eyelashes and lipstick? John D’Agata counteracts Barnstone’s statement with his own, Sappho fascinates us because she is there at the beginning of literature, rooted as deeply into the history of human imagination as any other writer.
But she also fascinates us because unlike Homer and Archilochus, whose works essentially remain intact, she is a slate upon which anything can be written, about whom anything can be imagined, and from whom anything, therefore, is possible. ” While Sappho may be a great blank slate to build upon, it should be the reader’s imagination that makes the blueprints, not the translators. In conclusion, Anne Carson’s translation of Sapphds work is the most effective of the versions I have read.
Through staying faithful to Sapphds tattered work and including brackets where blank space occurs, she creates a sense of emphasis and importance on the words we do have and a sense of emptiness and a yearning for the many words that we don’t. Through not adding in her own words, Carson encourages readers to be creative and imagine what the full pieces may have looked like. In it’s lack of completeness, Anne’s work proves to be interesting and different. Sources If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, Anne Carson 1998 Sun and Moon collection, Sappho Poems, Willis Barnstone 1976 collection, 7 Greeks, Guy Davenport
Sappho: A New Translation, Mary Barnard http://www. bostonreview. net/BR27. 5/dagata. html http://’. nm. n. nl. goodreads. com/book/show/1 50253. Sappho. Full Text Available By: SININGER. American Record Guide. May/Jun2013, Vol. 76 Issue 3, p104-105. 2P. subjects: ORCHESTRAL music; REVIEWS; SAPPHO (MUSIC); GLANVILLE-Hicks, Peggy SAPPHO. Detail Only Available By: Thorpe, Liffey. Classical Review. oct2008, vol. 58 Issue 2, p333-335. sp. DOE 10. 1017/S0009840X0800005X. subjects: BOOKS Reviews; POEMS; FICTION; SAPPHO (800k); JOHNSON, M. SAPPHO UNRAVELLING sy: Chris Boyd. Herald sun (Melbourne). 11/21/2007.