Item description for Albert Giraud's Pierrot Lunaire (New Odyssey Series) by Albert Giraud...
This is the first English translation of Belgian poet Albert Giraud's collection of fifty poems, Pierrot Lunaire: Rondels Bergamasques (1884). Giraud's work was translated into German by Otto Erich Hartleben, and twenty-one of those poems were used by Arnold Schoenberg in his masterpiece [Pierrot Lunaire] (1912)--one of the defining compositions of the twentieth century. These English renderings reveal the extent to which Hartleben introduced changes as he translated the work. Taken as a whole, this trilingual edition suggests how the French fin de sicle served as a model for the early-twentieth-century German avant-garde, which culminated in Schoenberg's masterpiece.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.1" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.41" Weight: 0.56 lbs.
Publisher Truman State University Press
ISBN 1931112029 ISBN13 9781931112024
Reviews - What do customers think about Albert Giraud's Pierrot Lunaire (New Odyssey Series)?
Faithful to the French Aug 25, 2007
The reviews about this translation largely speak to the vast differences between Giraud's French poems and Hartleben's German translations. For most of the 20th century, it has been axiomatic that Hartleben improved the "pallid pastels" of Giraud's original work. However, recent scholarship, largely coming out of Giraud's native Belgium, has suggested that Giraud's work is deeply engaged with a conflict between a more traditional school of poetry and the allure of the more recent Symbolist poets. Giraud's poems are purposefully distant and otherworldly. It is perhaps one of the unacknowledged ironies of music history that Giraud's poems were better suited to Stravinsky's aesthetic and only suited Schoenberg by way of Hartleben's translation. (However, Stravinsky dismissed the poems in Hartleben's translation as part of an outdated aesthetic which he associated -- I think correctly -- with Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde.)
Compared to the actual poems, as Giraud wrote them, Richter's translation is nuanced and sensitive to the context. Moreover, he manages to present them without comment, which is essential to the Parnassian aesthetic and extremely difficult to do. It is much easier to translate the Hartleben translation into English than the Giraud original.
For more about Giraud and Hartleben, see: Pierrot Lunaire: Albert Giraud, Otto Erich Hartleben, Arnold Schoenberg : Une Collection D'Etudes Musico-Litteraires : A Collection of Musicological and ... (Republique Des Lettres (Louvain, Belgium))
Albert Giraud's Pierrot Lunaire May 9, 2007
Bad translation into English.The translator has no sense of French poem. Misprint of French: Parmis (No.14 "Pierrot Voleur") for example. Parmis¨
Don't Drink the Moonbeams Jul 18, 2005
While this isn't my favorite translation of Pierrot, it isn't all that bad either, and having the French, German, and English together really makes things interesting. Also, as others have stated, there is no other published English language translation of the complete 50 poems, so fans of the poem will have to make do. Besides, I am a mere diletante when it comes to poetry and don't dare come down to hard on a professional.
I first came to Pierrot Lunaire through Schoenberg's work and was horrified. It wasn't just the awful atonal music, but the imagery of a psychopathic, homicidal clown that was disturbing. Of course, like most people, I know clowns to be the blood sucking spawns of satan that they are, and find nothing amusing about them. After researching the Commedia a bit, I came to realize that Pierrot isn't exaclty a clown in the modern sense, but more of a comic entertainer. I now picture him as a euro-Emo Philps type. Much more palatable...or maybe not. Anyway, once I overcame my initial revulsion, I began to see the beauty in this work. The poems are exquisite, playful and heroic. Human nature is exposed from all angles. The sequencing is different in the original than in Schoenberg's work and I haven' quite figured out what Giraud was up to with his ordering of the rondeaus, while Schoenberg's was clearer to me.
I would love to see more written about the poem as well as about Giraud. he is apparently considered a minor figure in the poetry world and little is available.
the white clown prowls at midnight, midnight prowls in him Nov 26, 2004
I mostly agree with the other reviewer's statements about the quality of the translation but it's the only copy of the poem cycle I got so I will review it. Pierrot is an archetype and Pierrot struck by the moon and left to reel through a phantasmagoria is even more of an archetype. Pierrot, the poor white clown, is not merely a victim of human persons he becomes a victim of moods, states of exalted or lowered conciousness, a victim of the moon, at last a victim of himself. He commits suicide - what else could he do? - but he comes back to haunt the night like a vampire sent by demons to prey on himself. The images in this dream cycle are lurid, apocalyptic, and - unaccountably but wonderfully - witty. A witty apocalypse? Read these poems for yourself. You will behold at its beginnings one of the strangest movements to sweep ( or should I say creep?) through the arts and letters of European civilization: a deep obsession with the famed commedia del'arte or commedia del'italia. The commedia del'arte was popular entertainment for centurys; a story of the white clown and other figures such as Columbine and Harlequin. Something aristocratic, child-like, and utterly decadent in the European soul seized on this rustic fun and transformed it into an aesthetic wonderland part ecstatic, part enchanting, and part ominous. What, after all, does Pierrot truly signify? And why was the Belgian poet Albert Giraud mad enough to try and hint at it with draggers?
Wait for another translation. Lifeless translation. Nov 10, 2003
Although helpful in including the original French text by Giraud, the German translation by Hartleben (used by Schoenberg), and an English translation from the original, I found the latter translation by Gregory C. Richter disappointing and very poor: it lacks the spiraling insanity and verbal vigor I have read from other translations. For example. Here are excerpts of Richter's translation of The Sick Moon:
"O Moon, nocturnal phthisic, On the black pillow of the skies, Your huge and feverish face Attracts me like strange music!
...But thinking of physical pleasures, A lover passes by, uncaring..."
Compare that to Stanley Appelbaum's translation (found in Verklarte Nacht and Pierrot Lunaire, Dover Publications):
"You moon, gloomy and sick to death There on the black cushion of the sky, Your eye, so feverishly enlarged, Casts a spell over me like a strange melody.
...The lover, who in ecstacy, is going off, carefree, to this sweetheart..."
This could be argued as an unfair comparison because the Appelbaum's translation is from the German translation from Giraud's text, but still, you can see how Richter's text lacks a singing quality, it feels "rushed", and the moon the does not really come out, where there is never a breath between the lines. If you are not convinced, here is another example, this time comparing Richter's text to another French translation. These are parts from Richter's translation of Sunset:
"The Sun has slit its veins On a bed of russet clouds: Its blood, through gaping chasms, Sprays out in crimson fountains.
The agitated branches of the oaks Convulse the crazed horizons...
...Like a Roman debauchee Overcome with loathing Who lets his sickly lifeblood flow Into the filthy gutters..."
Now compare that to John Porter Houston and Mona Tobin Houston's translation (from An Anthology: French Symbolist Poets, Indiana University Press):
"The sun has cut his wrists On a bed of reddish clouds: His blood, through gaping holes, Spurts in red fountains.
The oaks' convulsive branches whip the mad horizons...
...Just like a delicate debauchee, after the Roman Shame, a debauchee allowing his sickly arteries to bleed into filthy sewers..."
From looking at this comparison between Richter and the Houstons, I find Richter's choice of words and placement in poor judgement, lacking a musical harmony that constantly misses the point of the illustrative details of Giraud's text. Richter, in his treatment to Pierrot, is either over-simplifying or over-complicating (by not paying attention to connotations, and the different degrees of effectiveness of words that share the same meaning) or doing both at the same time; it feels frustrating. The other two fantastic translations I have pointed out by Appelbaum and the Houston's treat Pierrot with a sincere diabolicalness; in their versions, you could feel the quietly clandestine moon flowers' rage because Pierrot, the moon, the Madonna, the tides, the blood...are all written in details that let the mind wander freely in Pierrot's landscape. Richter's version puts the mind in a mental boxcar: get to one poem, stop, and then quickly get to next one. I suggest to wait until someone else will translate the whole Pirrot Lunaire series and skip this book, or rather perhaps write letters to Dover and Mr. Appelbaum, or the Houstons and plead to them to offer a new translation of Giraud's mad text.
(I apologize for speaking abstractly, but when your talking about what is musical, often it is difficult to not get abstract.)