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NP Van Wyk Louw (1906-1970) was a giant of Afrikaans literature. Jo-Marie Claassen saw the first production of his verse drama Germanicus in 1956 while still at school, and again when it was performed at Stellenbosch in 1972. Being from a bilingual family, she was inspired to translate this Afrikaans masterpiece so that the rest of the Anglophone world could enjoy it. This she at last managed almost forty years later, after her retirement from the Department of Ancient Studies at Stellenbosch University. Her translation aims to retain the sweeping grandeur of the original and has tried to remain faithful to both Louw's exhilarating poetic vision and his dramatic portrayal of the corruption inherent in absolute power, a topic still very apposite today. Jo-Marie is the author of two scholarly books and many academic articles, mostly on the Roman poet Ovid, who was exiled by the emperor Augustus about twelve years before the events portrayed in this drama.
on June 12, 2013 :
Claassen's translation of the original Afrikaans drama Germanicus into English is a significant achievement. I am impressed with both the poetic feel of the translation and the helpful introduction.
I have long thought it unfortunate that this and other Afrikaans plays derived from the classical world did not have a wider audience through their translation into English. With her bilingual ability, expertise in the classical world and sensitivity to poetic verse form, Claassen is the ideal scholar-translator to bring these important Afrikaans dramas based on classical elements to life in English.
Claassen has translated the original Afrikaans verse of Germanicus line by line into English verse, an approach that I wholeheartedly support. Given the sensitivity of Claassen's translation, much can be gained by following her English translation line by line along with the original Afrikaans text. The publication of this play in English will attract the attention of scholars in the booming field of classical reception. Up until now the Germanicus has not been accessible to much of the international scholarly community. The publication of Claassen's translation will help to draw attention not only to this sorely neglected drama but also to other Afrikaans plays based on classical elements that await translation into English.
(reviewed long after purchase)