Friday, February 21, 2014

Casson Vs. De Melo

I found the contrast between Casson and De Melo the most interesting because of the different purposes for which they were written. In class today we discussed how De Melo is the newest translation and that he emphasized a scholarly, literal translation from the original Latin text. As a Latin student, I found his translation very helpful as he tried to keep the English in similar clauses as the Latin had been. However because of this scholarly effort, the translation is stiff and clearly not suited for the stage.  Casson’s work, however, features a rhythm and ease that makes his translation a prime candidate for our production. He has adjusted the lines to make them sound more fluid to the English ear. Casson’s punchlines hit well, and he displays a sound understanding of the timing of quick back and forth banter. Casson also included parenthesized stage directions that gave the readers a bit of emotional context. I believe that this was a smart play on Casson’s part (no pun intended) because the brief directions do a lot to aid the silent reader’s mental imaging of the scene. Sir Thomas Casson (pictured below) was a well-known British actor and director in the early 20th century and his familiarity with the theatre is clear from this translation.  Though they had their differences, these two versions did have their similarities. Both Casson and De Melo utilized modern English to make the translation relatable.
I have had some rudimentary Latin translation experience myself and this has given me some insight into the amount of decisions and influence a translator can have on the end product. Even though I previously called De Melo’s translation stiff, it has still been translated into smooth English and it is by all means accessible. I am partial to Casson’s translation because it features a dialogue that both embraces the reality of the circumstances and characters and the poetry of the theatre.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you bring your experience with Latin to bear in judging these different translations. We should note, that the translation was done by Lionel Casson, a professor of Classics at NYU, not Sir Thomas, though I'm sure the famous actor could give us some insight into the text as well!