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Wrong Robert Bagg?

Robert Ely Bagg


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Background Information

Employment History

Robert Bagg

Professor of English

University of Massachusetts



Mike Mazur Robert Frost Fellow

Amherst College

Professor Emeritus of English At the University of Massachusetts


English literature


Web References(49 Total References)

Poetry - Robert Bagg: Poems, Greek Plays, Essays, Novels, Memoir [cached]

Robert Bagg: Poems, Greek Plays, Essays, Novels, Memoir
Bob Bagg. Listen to the unadorned, unpretentious force with which he announces his mother's death in the collection's opening, and perhaps strongest piece, "Ostrakoi": "The morning Mother died, Dad walked me / through her roses: 'It's so unfair … Mom dying / at sixty-two.'" Such economy of language allows for the communication of complex emotion without the embarrassment of showy melodrama. (Another highlight is "The Closest Thing," the author's account of his brief brushes with Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, a delicious treat for lovers of 20th-century literature.) Like a well-made shoe, Bagg's writing is comfortable, Bagg seems desperate at times to make sure readers understand his encyclopedic mind, but readers will surely make the effort on their own. Superb poetry from an established talent. Body Blows "Bagg is an exceptional poet-capable de tout, as Cocteau says the poet should be. ... "[T]his volume ... is distinguished by a number of arresting poems unlike any being written by Mr. Bagg's contemporaries, whatever their years may be. Robert Bagg's is a slender but altogether valuable body of work." ... I ask Robert Bagg for more poems like 'Damp Cashmere.' ... As Henry Miller put it in The Time of the Assasins, 'we must find a new language in which one heart will speak to another without intermediation.'" Ted Kooser "In Madonna of the Cello the young poet Robert Bagg has achieved a number of shorter narratives that are most exciting.

Robert Bagg
Robert Bagg Robert Bagg taught English at the University of Massachusetts from 1965 until 1996.

Azul Editions publishes Roque Dalton, Rugama, Siqueiros, Thoreau, Pablo Neruda... [cached]

ROBERT BAGG is a University of Massachusetts Professor Emeritus of English, a poet, and a persistent translator of Greek Drama.
His honors include a Prix de Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Bellegio residency, and a National Book Award nomination.

The Complete Plays of Sophocles, A New Translation [cached]

Keith Oliver's production of Sophocles' play is brilliantly served by a brand-new translation, written for the occasion by the respected poet Robert Bagg.
The new translation by, by University of Massachusetts English professor Robert Bagg, is so flawlessly conceived and executed that Bagg must almost be considered a true playwright. He has done more here that convert Greek words to English. He has created new poetry from the old. Some of Bagg's most impressive work is contained in the traditional Greek Chorus songs, which accompany the unfolding action. This translation, by Massachusetts scholar Robert Bagg, highlights the secondary conflicts. Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Robert Bagg. University of Massachusetts Press, 1978. 96 pp. "Every classical Greek play has a strangeness at its heart," begins Robert Bagg in his introduction to his translation. The strangeness to which he refers results from our own unfamiliarity with commonplaces in the Greek experience, and necessitates introductions of modern texts and translations of ancient works. Bagg's own contributions to the acquaintance of modern reader or viewer with ancient authors are illuminating and brief, and are directed primarily at the strangeness, to us, of Dionsysiac worship and influence in their many apparently contradictory aspects. Although the modern audience is faced with this cultural hurdle, the power of The Bakkhai derives nevertheless from a more frightening kind of strangeness, the kind a society or individual encounters when he confronts the composition of his own being. For Euripides has painted an externalized vision of interior human forces in conflict, forces over which we considerably less control than we would like to hope. Wisely, Bagg does not attempt to delineate the patterns of conflict beyond explaining something of their cultural and literary context; rather, he allows his translation of the play to speak for itself, to present the audience with images and sounds for which each viewer must ultimately make his own meaning. Bagg succeeds admirably in translating music into music in even the most difficult contexts; for example, turning a running hexameter into artful repetition, Though Bagg treats some with the grace that marks the rest of his work (e.g., the crucial pun on the name of Pentheus, "grief": "No sorrow is what your name means, / Pentheus. And pain. It fits. Bagg 703-704; Greek 508), at times he descends to the banal: Bagg again glosses over the details of the myth ("There is evil in Pentheus' blood - / the bestial earth blazes in his face ...". Because he attempts to offer a produceable translation, Bagg is probably within his bounds in removing an obstacle to the audience's attention to the play, and certainly the tragedy does not suffer much for these omissions. One of the beauties of Greek mythology, however, is its energetic refusal to be consistent, and any smoothing of its rough edges must at least bring a mist to the eyes of a classicist. At the far end of the same problem, Bagg does an admirable job of filling the long lacuna in the last scene of the play, piecing together the known fragments and scholarly deductions into a plausible whole. On a smaller scale he at times adds a word or line of explanation for the sake of his audience, and these additions are without exception conservative and inconspicuous. All these "tampering" with the received text contribute to such a smoothly flowing poem that even the most pedantic of us classicists would have to agree that the end justifies the means. Robert Bagg has not produced a school-text translation, a skeleton upon which a teacher or director must hang hours of interpretation before the original form can be perceived. Rather, without often straying beyond the strictest sense of the Greek, he has successfully translated one work of art into another, rendering living Greek into living English. The clarity of his poetry confronts the audience directly with the horror and the beauty of the Dionysiac forces, and thus I believe the version would lend itself well to production, one of the stated goals of this translation. Robert Bagg's translation of Sophocles' Theban plays is one of those felicitous renderings of Greek tragedy in which, for the most part, faithfulness to the ancient text meets poetic phrasing and meticulousness of image. The reason for this fortunate union of linguistic precision and rhetorical boldness may lie in Bagg's ... constant engagement in numerous productions of Greek plays ... [T]he attractive volume includes illuminating introductions ... and ... an interesting essay on Greek theatre in the time of Sophocles. ... Bagg's eminently actable text is an ingenious effort to recapture the remarkable poetic flavour of Sophocles' language; his unfailing loyalty to the letter and his sufficient philological expertise prevent the emphases and preoccupations of the theatrical practitioners from imposing an insurmountable barrier between ancient sensibility and modern sentiment. Robert Bagg has wisely written in a style of lucid and strong simplicity. His language is direct and forthright, yet dignified and eloquent. © 2011 Robert Bagg and James Scully; all rights reserved.

Class News [cached]

Bob Bagg's Latest Book, Sept. 2004
Mike Mazur Robert Frost Fellow, Oct. 18-22, 2004 Ren and Marilyn Hollinshead are inviting classmates to a toga party to be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, 2011, at their home on Martha's Vineyard to celebrate Bob Bagg's new book, The Complete Plays of Sophocles, A New Translation. Bob Bagg's Latest Book, September 2004 The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles, translated by Robert Bagg with introductions and notes by Bob and Mary was published this fall by the University of Massachusetts Press. Order may be placed through your local bookstore, the publisher , or

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