The Washington Post
The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentaryby Robert Alter
One of Newsweek’s Best Books of the Year and winner of the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement.A cornerstone of the scriptural canon, the Book of Psalms has been a source of solace and joy for countless readers over millennia. This timeless poetry is beautifully wrought by a scholar whose translation of the Five Books of Moses was/p>/em>
One of Newsweek’s Best Books of the Year and winner of the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement.A cornerstone of the scriptural canon, the Book of Psalms has been a source of solace and joy for countless readers over millennia. This timeless poetry is beautifully wrought by a scholar whose translation of the Five Books of Moses was hailed as a “godsend” by Seamus Heaney and a “masterpiece” by Robert Fagles. Alter’s The Book of Psalms captures the simplicity, the physicality, and the coiled rhythmic power of the Hebrew, restoring the remarkable eloquence of these ancient poems. His learned and insightful commentary illuminates the obscurities of the text.
The Washington Post
Following his critically acclaimed 2004 translation of the Torah (The Five Books of Moses), Alter (Hebrew & comparative literature, Univ. of California, Berkeley) here turns his attention and considerable skills to the book of Psalms, taking great pains along the way to remain faithful to both the sense of the original Hebrew and the rhythms, metaphors, wordplay, and unique voice of its poetry. An extensive introduction explains Alter's philosophy of translation and the challenges faced by those rendering Hebrew text in English, and detailed, footnoted commentary gives philological, literary, and theological background and justifications for word choice and usage. A short list of resources for further reading is also included. Alter's translation may seem somewhat startling for readers more familiar with the verbose language of the King James Version, but it offers both clarity and fidelity to the meaning, meter, and nuances of the original Hebrew. Highly recommended for theological and academic libraries and for public libraries with large theological collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ5/1/07.]
Amanda K. Sprochi
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Meet the Author
Robert Alter's ongoing translation of the Hebrew Bible, the magnificent capstone to a lifetime of distinguished scholarly work, has won the PEN Center Literary Award for Translation. His immense achievements in scholarship ranging from the eighteenth-century European novel to contemporary Hebrew and American literature earned Alter the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, Alter is the Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.
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