In this issue of MPT

Transgressions, Series 3 No. 5

Edited by David Constantine, Helen Constantine

'Transgressions' is a rich and rewarding issue which begins with the editors’ definition of what transgression might mean to a translator: ‘the word might allude to fidelity and infidelity; to the foreignness of the thing they are bringing in from abroad, the blatancy of its foreignness, or the homeliness and familiarity in which they disguise it’.

It includes a satisfyingly varied mix of eminent writers, poets and translators ranging from poet and translator Michael Hamburger, through young specialist in modern Chinese poetry, Zhou Zhan, to distinguished poet and translator Clive Wilmer, who with George Gömöri has translated five volumes from Hungarian. Other writers include Pascale Petit, who brings exotic myth to family relationships; John Manson who translates Cavafy via French into Scots; and Dorothea Grünzweig, living in Finland, who has put the songs of the Mansi into German.

The work collected here, the editors suggest, often offends, or discusses offences, against one code or another. Transgressions is a subject we should do well to consider, when the kinds of transgression are so often done by governments in the name of the people. The introduction ends on a simultaneously sobering and inspirational note:

‘If writers can show us the real transgressors, the very big pornographers, the mouthers of the worst obscenities, and help us to resist them, they will do well.’


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Series 3 No.5 - Transgressions

Table of contents

In Transgressions

Poetry and Features

Editorial David and Helen Constantine

Four Mansi songs, translated by Dorothea Grünzweig and Derk Wynand from Vogul via German
Meles Negusse, ‘Wild Animals’, translated by Charles Cantalupo from Tigrinya

Hubert Moore, ‘Removals’

Sasha Dugdale, ‘Lot’s Wife’

Pascale Petit, three poems and a translation of a poem by Zhou Zan from Chinese

Andreas Angelakis, ‘Constantine in Constantinople’, translated by John Lucas from Modern Greek

Constantine Cavafy, two poems, translated into Scots, via the French, by John Manson from Modern Greek

Victor Manuel Mendiola, ‘Your Hand, My Mouth’, translated by Ruth Fainlight from Spanish (Mexico)

An extract from Bernard O’Donoghue’s translation of Sir Gawain from Middle English

W.D. Jackson, two versions of Boccaccio from Italian

Helen Constantine, Banned Poems (from France, China and Turkey)

Jean Follain, seven poems, translated by Olivia McCannon from French

Doris Kareva, three poems, translated by Ilmar Lehtpere from Estonian

Hilda Domin, ‘To whom it happens’, translated by Ruth Ingram from German

Lyubomir Nikolov, three poems, translated by Clive Wilmer and Viara Tcholakova from Bulgarian

Rilke, four poems from the Book of Hours, translated by Susan Ranson from German

Amina Saïd, four poems, translated by Marilyn Hacker from French (Tunisia)

Jeff Nosbaum, versions from the Aeneid and the Iliad from Latin and Ancient Greek

Hsieh Ling-yün, ‘By the Stream’, translated by Alastair Thomson via the Spanish of Octavio Paz from Chinese

Yu Xuanji, two poems, translated by Justin Hill from Chinese

Kaneko Misuzu, four poems, translated by Quentin Crisp from Japanese

Günter Grass, ‘The Ballerina’, translated by Michael Hamburger from German

Robert Hull, One Good Translation Deserves Another


Olivia McCannon on Peter Dale’s Tristan Corbière

Timothy Adès on Colin Sydenham’s Horace

Paschalis Nikolaou on Richard Burns

Belinda Cooke on Sailor’s Home: A Miscellany of Poetry, and Piotr Sommer’s Continued.

Shorter Reviews & Further Books Received

Issue highlights

  • Mansi Songs from Western Siberia
  • From Eritrea: Meles Negusse
  • A temptation from Sir Gawain
  • Transgressions, from the Decameron
  • Cavafy into Scots via French

Featured review

Wry-Blue Loves: Les Amours Jaunes and Other Poems

By Tristan Corbière
Translated by Peter Dale
Reviewed by Olivia McCannon

A detail in Peter Dale’s introduction stands out: in 1869, Tristan Corbière returned from Italy to his native Morlaix, where ‘he outraged the locals by appearing on the balcony in a bishop’s vestments which he had brought from Rome’. The Catholic church was a powerful authority in Second Empire France, and therefore an ideal target for this poet. His ‘Serenade of Serenades’, for example, is a st...

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