Robert Fitzgerald (October 12, 1910 - January 16, 1985)
Born: 12th October, 1910
Died: 16th January, 1985
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Author
Region: Geneva, New York, Hamden, Connecticut
Notable works: Bollingen Prize

Robert Fitzgerald Facts

Biography

Robert Fitzgerald, in full Robert Stuart Fitzgerald, (born October 12, 1910, Geneva, New York, U.S.--died January 16, 1985, Hamden, Connecticut), American poet, educator, and critic who was best known for his translations of Greek classics.

Fitzgerald grew up in Springfield, Illinois, and attended Harvard University, from which he received a B.A. in 1933. He worked as a journalist at the New York Herald Tribune (1933-35) and Time magazine (1936-49) and in 1946 began teaching at Sarah Lawrence College. He later held positions at a number of universities, including Princeton, Harvard, and Notre Dame. From 1984 to 1985 Fitzgerald was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress (now poet laureate consultant in poetry) but served in a limited capacity due to poor health.

In 1931 Fitzgerald's poetry began to appear in literary journals. Four years later his first collection, Poems, was published. His later works include A Wreath for the Sea (1943), In the Rose of Time: Poems 1931-1956 (1956), and Spring Shade: Poems, 1931-1970 (1971). Beginning in the mid-1930s Fitzgerald began translating ancient Greek plays. With the American critic and poet Dudley Fitts, he translated works by Sophocles (The Antigone of Sophocles [1939] and Oedipus Rex [in The Oedipus Cycle, 1949]) and Euripides (The Alcestis of Euripides, 1936). He also translated Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus (1941), Homer's The Odyssey (1961) and The Iliad (1963), and Virgil's Aeneid (1983). Praised for their boldness and clarity, many of Fitzgerald's translations of the classics became standard texts. In 1961 he won the first Bollingen Award given for the translation of poetry for his version of The Odyssey, published that year. Fitzgerald also edited collections of James Agee's poetry and short prose and, with his wife, Sally, a collection of the occasional prose of Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners, 1969). The criticism of literature is the topic of his Enlarging the Change: The Princeton Seminars in Literary Criticism, 1949-1951 (1985).

Top 23 Robert Fitzgerald quotes

Poetry is at least an elegance and at most a revelation.
Elegance
Least
Most
Poetry
Revelation
Homer's whole language, the language in which he lived, the language that he breathed, because he never saw it, or certainly those who formed his tradition never saw it, in characters on the pages. It was all on the tongue and in the ear.
Because
Breathed
Certainly
Characters
Ear
Formed
He
His
Homer
Language
Lived
Never
Pages
Saw
I think it was lucky that during most of the work on the Odyssey I lived on Homer's sea in houses that were, in one case, shaken by the impact of the Mediterranean winter storms on the rocks below.
Below
Case
Homer
Houses
I think
Impact
Lived
Lucky
Mediterranean
Most
Odyssey
Rocks
Sea
Shaken
I think that everyone who took part has always been grateful for it.
Always
Been
Everyone
Grateful
I think
Part
Think
Took
Who
I think there are perhaps two ways in which one can begin.
Begin
I think
Perhaps
Think
Two
Ways
Which
I would then go on to say that Homer, as we now know, was working in what they call an oral tradition.
Call
Go
Homer
Know
Now
Oral
Say
Then
Tradition
Working
Would
In a way you can feel that the poet actually is looking over your shoulder, and you say to yourself, now, how would this go for him? Would this do or not?
Actually
Feel
Go
Him
How
Looking
Now
Over
Poet
Say
Shoulder
Way
Would
You
In fact, eloquence in English will inevitably make use of the Latin element in our vocabulary.
Element
Eloquence
English
Fact
In fact
Inevitably
Latin
Make
Our
Use
Vocabulary
Will
Now, the language that had grown up and formed itself on those principles is what one is dealing with, and the problem is to bring a work of art in that medium into another medium formed on different principles and heard and understood in a different way.
Another
Art
Bring
Dealing
Different
Different way
Formed
Grown
Grown-up
Had
Heard
Itself
Language
Medium
Of course the other and more serious way in which it all happens is that one finds in poems and language some quality one appropriates for oneself and wishes to reproduce.
Course
Finds
Happens
Language
More
Oneself
Other
Poems
Quality
Reproduce
Serious
Some
Way
Which
One should indeed read Pope with his notes available, in the Twickenham edition possibly, to see what a vast amount he did understand about Homer.
About
Amount
Available
Did
Edition
He
His
Homer
Indeed
Notes
Pope
Possibly
Read
See
That helped me to keep in touch with myself and to keep in touch with this really quite extraordinary language and literature into which I had pushed a little way.
Extraordinary
Had
Helped
Keep
Language
Literature
Little
Me
Myself
Pushed
Quite
Really
Touch
Way
The heart of the matter seems to me to be the direct interaction between one's making a poem in English and a poem in the language that one understands and values. I don't see how you can do it otherwise.
Between
Direct
English
Heart
How
Interaction
Language
Making
Matter
Me
Otherwise
Poem
See
Seems
The invention of Bob Dylan with his guitar belongs in its way to the same kind of tradition of something meant to be heard, as the songs of Homer.
Belongs
Bob
Bob dylan
Dylan
Guitar
Heard
His
Homer
Invention
Kind
Meant
Meant to be
Same
Something
The question is how to bring a work of imagination out of one language that was just as taken-for-granted by the persons who used it as our language is by ourselves. Nothing strange about it.
About
Bring
How
Imagination
Just
Language
Nothing
Our
Ourselves
Out
Persons
Question
Strange
Used
There must of course be a relationship between translating and making poems of your own, but what it is I just don't know.
Between
Course
Just
Know
Making
Must
Own
Poems
Relationship
Translating
Your
Well, maybe so, although I don't think I am particularly gifted in languages. In fact, oddly enough, it may have something to do with my being slow at languages.
Although
Am
Being
Enough
Fact
Gifted
I am
In fact
Languages
May
Maybe
Oddly
Particularly
Slow
Well, with the French language, which I understood and spoke, however imperfectly, and read in great quantities, at certain times, the matter I suppose was slightly different from either Latin or Greek.
Certain
Different
Either
French
French language
Great
Greek
However
Language
Latin
Matter
Quantities
Read
Slightly
What the translator - myself in particular - does is not comparable to what the Homeric performer was doing.
Comparable
Does
Doing
Myself
Particular
Performer
Translator
Words began to appear in English and to make some kind of equivalent. For what satisfaction it is hard to say, except that something seems unusually piercing, living, handsome, in another language, and since English is yours, you wish it to be there too.
Another
Appear
Began
English
Equivalent
Except
Handsome
Hard
Kind
Language
Living
Make
Piercing
Satisfaction
Yes, and there were changes of light on landscapes and changes of direction of the wind and the force of the wind and weather. That whole scene is too important in Homer to neglect.
Changes
Direction
Force
Homer
Important
Landscapes
Light
Neglect
Scene
Too
Weather
Were
Whole
Wind
Yes, living voices in a living language, so it seemed to us.
Language
Living
Seemed
Us
Voices
Yes
Is encouragement what the poet needs? Open question. Maybe he needs discouragement. In fact, quite a few of them need more discouragement, the most discouragement possible.
Discouragement
Encouragement
Fact
Few
He
In fact
Maybe
More
Most
Need
Needs
Open
Poet
Possible

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