Interpretation and ‘Opening’: Dryden, Chapman, and Early Translations from the Bible

Matthew Reynolds

in The Poetry of Translation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199605712
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731617 | DOI:
Interpretation and ‘Opening’: Dryden, Chapman, and Early Translations from the Bible

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Lowell's ambivalences about translation and interpretation echo Dryden's; Dryden's echo George Chapman in his translation of the Iliad where he talks of using poetry to ‘open’ poetry. ‘Open’ had been a key word in translations of the Bible: I trace it back through the Authorized Version, Coverdale, the Wycliffites, to Richard Rolle who translated the Psalms in the early fourteenth century. On the one hand, a translation of the Bible should ‘open’ it to understanding; on the other, ‘opening’ is felt to be something more interventionist than ‘translation’ should really be. Translators tried to get out of this bind by distinguishing conceptually and typographically between translation proper and supplementary writing, or ‘expounynge;’ but—as I show—the distinction kept breaking down.

Keywords: opening; interpretation; translation; Bible; John Dryden; George Chapman; Miles Coverdale; Richard Rolle; Wycliffites

Chapter.  4142 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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