He has produced a version of Lamentations that manages to be not only faithful to the structure of the original, respectful of the ashes-and-tears-drenched imagery of the Hebrew, while sacrificing none of the power of the biblical test... a masterpiece.
In the process of recounting the Jewish experience, this co-editor of the Johns Hopkins Complete Roman Drama in Translation, and poet, novelist, critic, and journalist, demonstrates his competence in this undertaking. As another reviewer has said, 'This is a powerful and moving convergence of a translator and his source'.
In his extended meditation preceding his translation of the book, David Slavitt connects the Lamentations to other periods of violence and destruction, such as the Nazi Holocaust. As happens with many writings of great strength, Lamentations has taken on new meaning as it has moved through time and across geographies... This is a book that not only allows but demands rereading.
David Slavitt's tact and sensitivity in translation are by now widely recognized. This is a powerful and moving convergence of a translator and his source, a book worth the attention of anyone who cares what living poets are up to, and unusually rewarding to those who may seek, as balm for their own private griefs, the history of greater griefs than theirs.
Much more than a simple translation of the biblical book, David Slavitt's Book of Lamentations is an extended meditation on the tragic aspect of Jewish history, culminating in a translation of the original Lamentations..
Notes on the Translation
Part I. Meditation
Part I. Ilamentations