Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Although he was a poet first and foremost, Louis MacNeice (mak-NEES) published a number of important works in other genres. His only novel, Roundabout Way (1932), not very successful, was published under the pseudonym Louis Malone. MacNeice’s only other venture into fiction was a children’s book, The Penny That Rolled Away (1954), published in England as The Sixpence That Rolled Away.

An area in which he was no more prolific, but much more successful, was translation. The combination of his education in classics with his gifts as a poet led him to do a successful translation of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon in 1936. E. R. Dodds, an eminent classics professor at Oxford and literary executor of MacNeice’s estate, calls the translation “splendid” (Time Was Away, 1974, Terence Brown and Alec Reid, editors). W. B. Stanford agrees that in spite of the almost insurmountable difficulties of Aeschylus’s text, MacNeice succeeded in producing an eminently actable version, genuinely poetic, and generally faithful to the original. MacNeice’s translation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust: Eine Tragödie (pb. 1808, 1833; The Tragedy of Faust, 1823, 1838) for radio presented very different problems—in particular, his not knowing German. The radio medium itself also produced problems in terms of what the audience could follow. MacNeice collaborated with E. L. Stahl on the project, and on the whole it was successful. According to Stahl, MacNeice...

(The entire section is 622 words.)