On the back cover of the new University of Chicago Press edition of Richmond Lattimore’s 1951 translation of Homer’s Iliad, there’s an appraisal from Robert Fitzgerald:
The feat is so decisive that it is reasonable to foresee a century or so in which nobody will try again to put the Iliad in English verse.Yes, Fitzgerald wrote that sentence, in “Heroic Poems in English,” a review of Lattimore’s translation published in the Autumn 1952 issue of the Kenyon Review. Sometime after writing that sentence, Fitzgerald translated the Iliad (1974). His Odyssey (1961) though is far better known.
I’ll admit: if I were tasked with selling the Iliad, I’d like to quote great reviews too. But quoting a nearly sixty-year-old undated sentence on the likely longevity of a translation, a sentence whose writer went on to make his own translation of the poem, seems, well, odd.
Related posts (Homer in translation)
Translations, mules, briars
Translators at work and play
[I’m unable to find a date for this edition’s other jacket quotation, from Peter Green, writing in The New Republic: “Perhaps closer to Homer in every way than any other version made in English.” Which versions did Green have in mind?]