This year’s Sebald Lecture on Literary Translation is given by classicist Emily Wilson, whose 2017 English translation of Homer’s Odyssey – the first by a woman – met with widespread critical acclaim.
Why translate The Odyssey into English yet again, when there have already been almost seventy translations into our language? Emily Wilson discusses her working process and goals with this project, from questions of verse form and metre, pacing, style, word choice to narrative perspective, focalisation and point of view. She outlines her vision of this complex, magical, moving and absorbing text about identity, hospitality and the meanings of home.
Emily Wilson is Professor of Classical Studies and Chair of the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania. She grew up in Oxford and has a BA in Classics (Lit. Hum.) from Balliol College Oxford, an M. Phil. in English literature from Corpus Christi College Oxford, and a Ph.D. in Classics and Comparative Literature from Yale. Her books include a study of tragedy and “overliving”, a book on the death of Socrates and its various cultural receptions, and a literary biography of Seneca. Her verse translations include Six Tragedies of Seneca, four tragedies of Euripides, and a forthcoming translation of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos. To follow The Odyssey, she is working on a new translation of the Iliad.
The Sebald Lecture is named after W.G. Sebald, who set up the British Centre for Literary Translation in 1989. Known as ‘Max’, he was a German writer who opted to live in the UK and continue writing in German. His novels and essays include The Rings of Saturn, Austerlitz, and On the Natural History of Destruction, which established him as a leading writer of the 20th century.
Presented by the British Centre for Literary Translation in association with the National Centre for Writing and the British Library.