Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
Pages: 352
Publication Date: January 10, 2017

ProensaAn Anthology of Troubadour Poetry

selected and translated from the Occitan by Paul Blackburn, edited and with an introduction by George Economou

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The poetry of the Provençal troubadours has had a profound influence on the development of the lyric, from Dante and Petrarch to Ezra Pound and the Black Mountain poets, despite the difficulty of Old Provençal, or Occitan, the original language of the troubadours. The renewed interest of the English-speaking world in troubadour poetry was initiated in the early twentieth century by Pound’s criticism and translations of the troubadours. Yet no poet writing in English has done more for this body of work than the American poet and translator Paul Blackburn, who devoted more than twenty years to the study and translation of occitan ancien. Proensa is the result of that long commitment, an anthology of thirty troubadour poets of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries. It is a dexterous and spirited work of translation, which, as George Economou writes in his introduction, “will take its place among Gavin Douglas’ Aeneid, Golding’s Metamorphoses, the Homer of Chapman, Pope, and Lattimore, Waley’s Japanese, and Pound’s Chinese, Italian, and Old English.”


Blackburn has skillfully incorporated musical elements and also "high" diction and syntax...a great translation.
—Stephen Fredman, Chicago Review

Spare, modern, and abstract without violating the artistic intricacy of the original...Proensa is a boon to those who will never experience the pleasure of studying the troubadours in their original accents but who now can appreciate their complex beauty in Paul Blackburn’s dense dynamic re-creations.
—Patricia Harris, Romance Philology

Blackburn’s forgotten translation of Troubadour poets, Proensa, is a testament to translation as a test of truth...never did strings plucked at such a distance reverberate so closely.
—Paul Pines, Big Bridge