Fagles, Robert 1933-2008

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Fagles, Robert 1933-2008


See index for CA sketch: Born September 11, 1933, in Philadelphia, PA; died of prostate cancer, March 26, 2008, in Princeton, NJ. Classicist, educator, translator, poet, and author. Fagles earned an accolade rarely bestowed upon the work of classical scholars or translators: best-seller. His translations of The Iliad (1990) and The Odyssey (1996) enchanted critics and readers alike. His energetic renditions of Homer's verse epics somehow resonated with the ease of contemporary speech while retaining the raw power and spirited pace of the original Greek. Fagles used the device of the first person, present tense to draw his readers into the action as if we were participants in the battles of The Iliad and the long, danger-laced journey of The Odyssey. After the success of his Greek translations, Fagles revived his memory of college Latin and spent the last decade of his life working on his translation of The Aeneid of Virgil. He completed this third daunting challenge to the applause of his waiting critics in 2006, grateful to have survived to see it in print. Fagles spent almost his entire career on the faculty of Princeton University, teaching English and chairing the department of comparative literature, which he had created in 1994. He was a popular teacher there from 1960 until his retirement in 2002. Fagles was nominated for a National Book Award for translation; he won the Harold Landon Translation Award of the Academy of American Poets, the Academy Award in Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Ralph Manheim Medal for translation from the PEN organization. Fagles's early publications included a book of original verse, I, Vincent: Poems from the Pictures of Van Gogh (1978). He also translated various works of Bacchylides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and others to hone his skills, he once commented, in preparation for his own epic odyssey through the works of Homer and Virgil.



Chicago Tribune, March 29, 2008, sec. 4, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2008, p. B12.

New York Times, March 29, 2008, p. A14.

Washington Post, March 30, 2008, p. C8.