Translation as Transformation: Tim Atkins’ and Peter Hughes’ Petrarch

  • Robert Sheppard
Part of the Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics book series (MPCC)


An account of contemporary ‘translation’ practices broadens the scope of the word from that of faithful imitation into many varieties of transformative practices using ‘original’ texts. While many examples are entertained in summary, two book-length projects taking the sonnets of Petrarch, by two British poets, Peter Hughes’ Quite Frankly: After Petrarchs Sonnets and Tim Atkins’ Collected Petrarch, are examined in detail with respect to their versions of the same poem. While Hughes (who reads Italian) emphasizes his difference from the original (by relocating the poems and modernizing them, for example), Atkins (who does not read Italian) intends in his versions to emphasize his distance from the originals (largely through the use of post-Oulipo techniques and constraints). Both writers manage to reflect Petrarch’s elegiac mode, while Atkins additionally injects a Buddhist negation.


Chinese Poetry British Poet Pyrrhic Victory Courtly Love North American Literature 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Sheppard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of English, History and Creative WritingEdge Hill UniversityOrmskirkUK

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